Many qualities can contribute to an excellent column or editorial, including eloquence, clarity, perceptiveness, humor, empathy and outrage, but the rarest and most compelling quality is courage.
Editorial courage isn’t about being reflexively contrarian or provoking readers with partisan views. It’s about taking a risk to tell the truth. It’s saying what many readers won’t want to hear or taking aim at powerful local institutions. That’s a hard thing to do and the reaction can be hard to endure. But it’s essential to the value and integrity of journalism.
The Carmage Walls Commentary Prize seeks to recognize, reward and foster editorial courage.
Ned Barnett is associate opinion editor for The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina.