How to Schedule and Conduct An Editorial Board Meeting

Every daily newspaper has an editorial board, which meets on a regular basis to discuss the news and choose topics and opinions for editorials. The editorial board also can endorse candidates for public office, take a stand on a variety of issues and urge voters to take a certain position.

As a citizen in the community, you can contact the editorial board and attempt to persuade it to take a position on the value of libraries in a tough economy. To do this, begin by calling your local newspaper and asking for the Editorial Board to schedule a meeting.

Preparing for your Visit \ Developing Your Presentation \ After the Visit

Preparing for Your Visit    

You may have only 10 - 15 minutes with the Editorial Board, so you need to be prepared to make a case quickly and persuasively. Use the following talking points to organize your thoughts, making sure to localize them with information specific to your own libraries and community.

  • Find a partner. On the day of the meeting, it is often helpful to take someone with you who is influential in the community and can help support your position, including a library patron, Friend, or an influential in your community.
  • Rehearse. Prior to the meeting, it is important to rehearse your presentation so that you are ready to clearly and persuasively state your position. Pay particular attention to framing your argument in terms of the public interest. Also, be aware of opposing arguments and prepare to answer them. If you bring a partner, rehearse together and determine which points each of you will make.
  • Be prompt, polite and respectful. Get to the meeting early and dress professionally.
  • The “Leave Behind.” Leave behind a concise handout, stating your case and providing examples of how your library is used in the community, including how many patrons are served annually, demographics, programs, services and their impact, etc. If you have any giveaways from your library, such as bookmarks, or a poster, bring them along to remind the Board of your visit.
  • Thank them. Be sure to thank the Editorial Board for their time before you leave.

Developing Your Presentation    

  1. Introduction: This newspaper should take a stand in defense of the community's libraries, as funding bodies at every level make drastic budget cuts. Thousands of your  readers pass through our libraries each year but, without adequate support, their libraries and librarians may not be there when they need them the most.
  2. Main Point: Today's libraries are dynamic, modern community centers for learning, information and recreation. They are centers of democracy. As information becomes the great equalizer in today's society, libraries play an increasingly critical role in leveling the playing field by providing free access to technology and information resources to everyone.
  3. Main Point: Reducing funding to our libraries will have a disproportionate impact on those who need us most - children, students, low-income residents, and senior citizens, especially in tough economic times. Shortening library hours or reducing programs and services will hurt those who have the least access to such resources outside the  library. Studies show that when the economy goes down, public library use goes up. They also show school libraries staffed by professional librarians dramatically increase students' reading test scores. Without adequate funding, academic libraries will not be able to afford both the print and electronic resources required for a 21st century education.
  4. Conclusion: We urge you to speak out in favor of sparing our community's libraries from budget cuts. The cost of cutting library programs is simply too high a price for our citizens to pay.
  5. Be prepared for Questions. At the end of your presentation, please ask the editorial board if they have any questions or concerns. They may be interested in hearing about some relevant statistics or a few stories about real people who rely on the library for opportunities to learn and grow. They may cite other competing budget priorities in these hard times. Be prepared to defend libraries in that context.

After the Visit    

Once at home, it’s important to follow up.

  • Thank them. Be sure to write a short follow-up note or email thanking the editorial board for hosting your visit. If an editorial does run, call, email or write a thank-you and encourage many in your network to write letters to the editor. Be sure to post the editorial in your library for all to see!
  • Be persistent. If an editorial doesn't immediately run, call the most receptive person at the next “media opportunity” - for example, two weeks before the state budget deliberations, Freedom of Information Day or National Library Week.  If the Editorial Board decides not to take a position on your issue, ask them to use an Op-Ed written by you.

 

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