The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

How the Star Tribune strives to provide a place for ‘thoughtfully curated disagreement about real issues’

Tue, April 25 2023, 11am

UMRA’s April 2023 luncheon forum featured Scott Gillespie, editorial page editor and vice president of the Star Tribune. He provided an insightful and educational look at how the Star Tribune produces editorials and chooses the “op-ed” commentaries it publishes on the page opposite the editorials. The event drew nearly 100 attendees, including many newcomers to UMRA.

Gillespie commented on several current University matters and controversies. This was followed by a lively question-and-answer session during which he was candid and thoughtful. It was a rollicking forum that was set in motion by retired Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist Lori Sturdevant, who is an inveterate watcher of the University and the Minnesota Legislature. She introduced Gillespie and gave us a sense of the intellectual back-and-forth that occurs among the nine members of the Star Tribune editorial board.

Gillespie began by emphasizing the distinction between opinion and news. He likened it to the separation of church and state. Unlike online comments, the opinion pages are a place for “thoughtfully curated disagreement about real issues,” he said. The Star Tribune strives to include voices from all over the state and reflect a marketplace of ideas. In Gillespie’s view, exposure to new and even disagreeable ideas makes the community better.

Editorials typically represent the institutional view of the Star Tribune and are written by the members of the editorial board—not news journalists—and have no bylines. One example he offered was a January 21 editorial urging University President Joan Gabel to drop her involvement with Securian Financial. She did eventually drop her participation.

Gillespie also highlighted some long, special reports—on underfunded Bureau of Indian Education schools, vaccinations, Minnesota’s growing rural-metro divide, vaccinations, and mining in the state—that reflect the institutional position of the Star Tribune and were prepared by the editorial board.

Scott Gillespie encouraged our members to submit letters and commentaries on topics of interest or reflecting the considerable expertise of our membership.

He encouraged those attending the forum to submit letters to the editor and commentaries. Letters are limited to 300 words. They reflect reader opinions and add insight from our community. The Star Tribune typically gets about 100 per day, although on “newsy” days it can be in the hundreds (plural), he said.

Commentaries are limited to 700 words, include bylines, and need to be written—not just signed—by the author. They need to be well written with a clear point of view, reflect expertise, and be based on solid data. His examples were a recent commentary urging support for the University’s legislative requests and a piece addressing the question What Should Teachers do with ChatGPT?

In a fun and far-ranging question-and-answer session, Gillespie commented on the proposed Fairview-Sanford merger, which he characterized as a dangerous road to travel that requires care and close scrutiny. He also described the many changes in the newspaper business which have led to downsizing throughout the country of both news and editorial staff; and acknowledged Glenn Taylor, owner of the Star Tribune, for his support of the paper and his respect for the news/opinion distinction.

When asked, Gillespie commented on the search for an interim University president and suggested that Myron Frans might be given serious consideration. Frans is the current chief financial officer, chief operations officer, and treasurer of the University and was formerly the Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget in the Walz administration. Gillespie voiced concern that the University was in a difficult position because the current legislative session is the appropriation session, and the University has submitted many important funding requests. He said Frans is a numbers guy who is well regarded by the Legislature and might be able to bolster the University’s funding requests.

Our thanks to Scott Gillespie and Lori Sturdevant for a great forum that was both educational and entertaining. Don’t forget to submit your letters and commentaries to the Star Tribune.

—Bill Donohue, UMRA Program Committee




UMRA welcomes Star Tribune Editorial Page Editor Scott Gillespie to April luncheon forum

Tue, April 25 2023, 11am
Scott Gillespie
Editorial page editor
Star Tribune

Midland Hills Country Club
2001 Fulham Street
Roseville MN 55113


The Retirees Association is pleased to welcome Star Tribune Editorial Page Editor and Vice President Scott Gillespie as the guest speaker for UMRA’s April 25 luncheon forum at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville. Gillespie is responsible for opinion content and leads the Star Tribune editorial board, which operates independently from the newsroom.

The locally owned and award-winning Star Tribune Media Company publishes the fourth-largest Sunday and third-largest daily circulation metro print newspaper in the U.S. and has more than 100,000 digital subscribers.

This is a rare opportunity for us to hear from and ask questions of one of the major thought leaders in Minnesota. He will be introduced by Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist Lori Sturdevant.

Gillespie will speak to us about several subjects, including the editorial board’s view of the University as an institution and how the board interacts with the leadership of the University and its faculty. Hopefully, he will also give us some insight into the board's thinking on current issues.

Gillespie has worked in journalism for more than 40 years in Minnesota and Wisconsin and has been in his current role since 2007. He was the lead editor of “Not this mine. Not this location.,” a 2019 special report on mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and "Separate and Unequal," a series of 2015 editorials on underfunded Bureau of Indian Education schools. Both projects were finalists for Pulitzer Prizes in the editorial writing category. He also was the nominating editor for editorial cartoonist Steve Sack’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection in 2013.

On occasion, Gillespie contributes columns of personal opinion to the Star Tribune’s op-ed page, as exemplified by “Another massacre, another failure to lead” published in May 2022 following the mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Prior to his current role, Gillespie served as managing editor of the Star Tribune for five years, and prior to that he was the assistant managing editor for local news and assistant managing editor for business news. As managing editor, he was responsible for the Star Tribune’s award-winning coverage of the death of Paul Wellstone, the war in Iraq, and the collapse of the I-35W bridge.

Gillespie earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and has been an adjunct faculty member in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota.

Please make your reservation today and join us on Tuesday, April 25, at Midland Hills.

—Bill Donohue, UMRA Program Committee. 

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