Brian Gleason '86: Writing to Affect Change
Brian Gleason ’86 is no stranger to the power of the press. As editorial page editor of the Sun newspapers in Port Charlotte, Fla., he uses journalism to help affect social change in the community.
“I get the chance to move people and move events,” Gleason says, noting that he represents the opinion of a seven-member editorial board. The newspaper has a daily circulation of 40,000.
Some editorials call for action or make the case for a particular issue with a person, group, or elected body; others may praise a decision or criticize a policy. For example, Gleason had a hand in convincing the board of a local community redevelopment agency to resist extending its term by eight years. The agency was charged with promoting waterfront development.
“The feeling was that the agency’s original 30-year term was long enough to get the job done,” he explains, “especially since the district receives tax subsidies that otherwise would be directed to other areas of the county.”
A reporter’s mindset is invaluable to editorial writing, according to Gleason. “If you prejudge a topic, person, or situation and don’t do the legwork, you could formulate an opinion or editorial position that is not supported by the facts. Other people might view the same facts and come to a different opinion, but if you get your facts wrong, you lose your credibility.”
The former Business Communication major cites Bentley as one of his lead sources. “My Bentley experience works in my favor because of the issues that come across my desk as a reporter and editor: business management, finance and the economy, to name few,” says Gleason, who has 20 years of experience in the field. “I left college with a broad basis of understanding that helped me become a better journalist at a faster rate.”
On staff at the Sun since 1989, he was a sports editor, copy desk chief, and columnist before assuming his current post. The work involves writing five to six editorials a week and a column focused on people and important events in the community.
“Anyone who goes into journalism is going to be someone who loves to write, and has a healthy streak of skepticism and an inquisitive nature,” says Gleason, who has been a catalyst for change on economic, environmental and public policy issues. “For me, that sense of belonging to a community and caring about its health and well-being is the key ingredient.”