For the past two and a half years, I’ve had the privilege of writing a weekly opinion column for Reuters. Some of those columns made me proud. Others I wish I could do over.
As of today, I am changing jobs and becoming an investigative reporter at Reuters. I will also write regular analysis columns, but they will be edited by the Reuters news desk and not contain opinion.
Measuring public concern by page views is a dubious enterprise. But the interest generated by some of my columns suggested that two main issues interested readers.
First, income inequality.
One of the pieces that drew the most traffic described how Hurricane Sandy exposed New York’s growing inequality. A piece praising a family-owned supermarket chain — Wegmans — that delivers outstanding service, generous wages to employees and a healthy profit was highly popular as well.
Militancy — and the U.S. response to it — also interested readers. A piece describing the dread American Muslims felt as news broke that two Chechen immigrants were suspected in the Boston marathon bombing was enormously popular. So were pieces criticizing the Obama administration’s excessive use of drone strikes, secrecy and online surveillance.
I tried to focus on consistent themes. One was the need for the United States to engage diplomatically and economically — not militarily — in the Middle East, back local moderates in the region and avoid the trap of an endless war on terror.
Another was the impact of rising income inequality in the United States and the hope signified by the emergence of a global middle class. Most alarming, to me, is the destructive effects of the United States’ deepening partisanship — from a broken government to a broken news media to an inability to agree on basic facts.
Our raging partisanship, in part, is what has prompted me to change jobs. Today, Americans need more fact — not more opinion. In our current political climate, I believe I can make a larger contribution as a reporter than as a columnist.
These two and a half years have been a privilege. Thank you for reading my columns. In an online media universe of exponentially increasing choices, I am honored that you chose to listen to me.
PHOTO: New York City donations vouchers sit on a table at the Oasis Christian Center in the Midland Beach area of Staten Island, New York, November 14, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid