Doug Gibson is the opinion editor at the Standard-Examiner, an Ogden-based daily newspaper. Born in Long Beach, Calif., Gibson earned a journalism degree at Brigham Young University and has worked at newspapers in Ely, Nev., and Boston. Gibson writes The Political Surf blog, as well as a blog covering boxing and MMA. He also edits Currents, a weekly online publication dealing with LDS themes.
How has the role of an opinion editor changed with the advent of social media?
An opinion editor spends as much time on the web as doing the print edition. In fact, I spend more time online. Writing blogs has replaced columns as a primary duty. Editorials that are written, as well as letters and columns, are placed online 16 hours or even days prior to print publication. Social media is a key priority for advertising the opinion content on our website, whether through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. We count hits on the website more than newsstand sales!
The Standard-Examiner’s readership seems conservative, yet its editorial board sometimes espouses moderate or liberal opinions. What generates the most blowback from readers, the editorials or Cal Grondahl’s cartoons?
The editorials get more blowback than the cartoons in volume, but Grondahl’s keen eye for satire usually generates more passion from detractors. We definitely have a more conservative readership, and that extends to letters, but when it comes to online commenters, I’d say it’s more 50-50 or even a tilt to the left.
Where do you place yourself on the left-right political spectrum?
I’m a conservative. I tilt more right on economic issues, and socially, I have concerns about the growth in illegitimacy and decrease in marriages that are shared by social conservatives. But I also have been influenced by libertarianism the past decade, particularly on the War on Terror, free speech and gay marriage. I can’t understand the conservative opposition to gay marriage. Marriage, in my opinion, is a civilizing force that promotes more secure families. We should be encouraging it for all couples, gay and straight.
You’re Facebook friends with a broad spectrum of liberals and conservatives, so your posts often inspire hundreds of heated comments. Was this intentional?
I try to find and share articles that are fascinating and can inspire debate. Sometimes they generate discussion; sometimes I learn that it’s only me and a few others who care about the topic, whether cultural or political. In the past, I used to post a provocative statement, such as, “Why are liberals obsessed with what kind of light bulbs we use?” but I haven’t done that in a while. It began to seem too obvious. A Facebook friend, Michael Trujillo, called me a provocateur, and I had to concede he was right.
Your Facebook posts often come across as conservative, yet I get the feeling that you’re a reasonable, thinking individual with an actual soul.
The quality of an argument interests me far more than what the argument is. I don’t want my opinions reinforced or stated in a duckspeak-like manner. My favorite authors tend to be libertarian-minded atheists, such as the late writers Christopher Hitchens and Oriana Fallaci, as well as the very much alive Camille Paglia. They are honest, and honesty is a valued trait in my profession. I can’t stand to read someone who is “devoid of doubt,” a phrase coined by Hanif Kureishi, one of my favorite authors, in his novel The Black Album. Also, covering politics and the associated shenanigans can turn one into a skeptic of the party in power.