What Is an Editorial Board?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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An editorial board is a panel of individuals at a publication like a newspaper, scientific journal, or encyclopedia that makes decisions about editorial style, tone, and positions. The board shapes the overall position of the publication, issues editorials on topics of interest, and evaluates material submitted for publication to confirm that it conforms to guidelines. Members of the board are typically listed for the benefit of members of the public, who can contact individual editors or the board as a whole.

In periodic meetings, members of an editorial board can discuss the history and goals of a publication. At a journal of public health, for instance, the journal may have a primary focus on promoting public health and providing a mechanism for the exchange of information in this field. It might set editorial standards like a demand for peer review of all published materials and can take positions on some public health topics like vaccination and quarantine procedures.

Members of the editorial board may have long tenures, and work with the publication to create a consistent style and tone that reflects the values of the organization. While news outlets tend to want to project an unbiased position, where news is provided with as little commentary as possible, many informally take liberal or conservative editorial positions and may consider these in opinion editorials and other publications. The editorial board can decide which positions the organization takes on topics of interest so it can communicate these views to readers.


The editorial board can also draft formal position papers. By convention, these are not signed, and are provided as the voice of the publication as a whole. Editorials can appear on a regular basis alongside signed opinions and letters from members of the public. The board usually takes positions on issues of importance like elections and major political topics, and expresses these opinions through formal communications from the editorial board.

Members of the public can contact the editorial board if they feel it necessary to do so. They may want to protest editorials, topics covered, or editorial policies. They can also respond to unsigned editorials, and the publication may choose to run responses in the letters to the editor section reserved for interaction with the readership and interested parties, like persons profiled in the publication. The editorial board may also work through a public editor or ombudsman to handle complaints, concerns, and requests from members of the public.


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