In My Opinion
by Paul Lacko
Walt Wright has been editor in chief of The Actuarial Review for the past four years or so and was the managing editor when I first joined the editorial staff eight years ago. I've spent many hours talking to Walt over long-distance lines during this time, so I certainly recognize his voice. But I can't tell you what he looks like, because I've yet to meet him in person!
Walt has decided to step down from his post, so this is the last issue that will show Walt's name in the upper right-hand corner of this page. On behalf of the staff of The Actuarial Reviewpast, present, and futureand the members of the Casualty Actuarial Society, I want to wish Walt all the best as he moves on to confront new challenges. He'll still be at his desk in New York (unless he's out visiting clients), at MMC Enterprise Risk Consulting, and his voice will still be heard in the CAS and in the American Academy of Actuaries.
One treasure that Walt leaves behind is "The Actuarial Review Statement of Purpose and Editorial Policy." Walt was instrumental in crafting this document and subsequently helping us to interpret and apply it to our editorial work. The Statement of Purpose is clear and concise: "The AR is an official publication of the CAS. The purpose of the AR is to provide a forum for CAS members to exchange news and views regarding items of professional interest to casualty actuaries."
This doesn't mean we restrict the book reviews to mathematics, statistics, and actuarial science. It does mean that most articles will be about the insurance industry, actuarial science, insurance law and regulation, emerging issues of interest to actuaries, members of the CAS, the CAS itself, and other actuarial organizations.
The Editorial Policy is a set of rules about what the AR will and won't publish. For example, one of the rules is: "AR will make it clear that all opinions expressed in the AR represent the views of the writers and are not intended to represent the position of the CAS." Have you noticed that you never see a piece titled "Editorial" in the AR? We don't use that title, because some readers interpret it to mean "official opinion of the CAS."
When the author of an opinion piece is speaking in an official CAS capacity, we will print both the author's name and CAS title (for example, vice president-professional education, chairperson of Committee on Online Services). When you don't see a CAS designated title, then you can be sure that the author is expressing a personal opinion. If you wish to express an alternative viewpoint, the AR will provide you the column space.
Here are additional items from the Statement of Editorial Policy:
- AR will provide an element of amusement in addition to news and views pieces. In other words, it is official policy to publish such things as "Nonactuarial Pursuits," "Actuarial Sightings," a puzzle column, and even poems, jokes, and other items that members may find amusing.
- AR articles, with rare exception, are subject to editing and cutting. We will correct mistakes in grammar, spelling, and usage. We may excise certain kinds of remarksthose made in bad taste, for example, or statements presented as fact, but found to be untrue. Occasionally we will shorten an article to make it fit in the available space. We will also assist authors with the writing process itself. (Please take advantage of AR editing services, provided free of charge! If you send us a first draft, our editors can help you create a finished product.)
- AR will not generally print letters that are received anonymously. However, at the request of the writer of a letter to the editor, we may withhold the author's name.
- AR does not accept paid advertisements. Generally, the AR prints no advertisements at all, paid or otherwise. The newsletter will publish brief notices of academic job descriptions and may cite books, software, or other tools that would be of interest to CAS members.
- The Editorial Board will provide advice and counsel to the editorial staff of The Actuarial Review.
The AR Editorial Board (AREB) is another lasting legacy of Walt's tenure at the AR. The Editorial Board consists of four ex officio members and three members appointed by the CAS president for three-year terms. The ex officio members are the editor in chief, the managing editor, the chairperson of the CAS Editorial Committee, and the vice president-administration, who serves as the chairperson of the AREB. The CAS publications production editor serves as an advisory member.
The AREB's role is to provide advice and counsel to the AR editorial staff. Its members routinely review the regular opinion pieces, which are "Random Sampler," "In My Opinion," and "From the President," to make sure that the contents are not unintentionally incendiary, insulting, false, or mean-spirited. In addition, the AREB will also solicit CAS members to generate alternative points of view, suggest professional issues that should be addressed in the AR, and occasionally write an opinion piece to be published in the AR. Hence, the AR Editorial Board does not censor. It cannot override decisions made by the AR editors, and it has no control over what is published in the AR.
Before closing, I want to thank Walt for stressing, over and over again, that the articles published in the AR must consistently maintain the highest standards for correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. To the readers, this is probably the most visible and the least obvious result of Walt's work. He has kept us editors on our toes.
Good luck to you, Walt, in all that you do. I will certainly try to apply what you've tried so hard to teach me! John Robertson has agreed to serve as our new managing editor as of the next issue. Our readers should recognize John's namehe's been keeping us all puzzled for roughly twenty (!) years.