Editor's Notes: New name for this page, with bigger role
The type size is so large at the top of the page, you probably didn't notice the change. Up to now, this page has been labeled "Opinion." Starting today, it's the "Forum."
Sure, it's all about being a place where opinions are expressed. But we want to emphasize that the invitation is out there for readers to use this public space to engage in community conversations. And everyone is welcome, regardless of where they locate themselves on any sort of political continuum.
We have goals for this page, and the most important ones, we think, are the sourcing for the content, encouraging letters to the editor and Web commenting, local editorials and having community representatives to a newly organized editorial board.
• For too long this page has been filled with the opinions of editorialists and columnists from somewhere else. Our ideal Forum page is one that is comprised of all local content — local letters to the editor, local Web and survey comments, local editorials, local guest columns by local authorities and experts.
It's likely there will always be some room for syndicated columnists and cartoonists, but the less there is, the better.
• We love getting letters to the editor. It's a simple and safe way for community members to express what's on their minds, what their priorities are, what their observations are, no matter whether the subject matter is deadly serious or lighthearted.
In the past, we've had days in a row without letters to print; our aim is to never have a day without reader opinion. We've upped the word limit for letters to 300 words and writers can submit one letter per calendar month.
We don't pick and choose which letters to publish; rather, we publish all letters submitted that are not libelous or have legal concerns, are in good taste, and concern public, not private, matters.
We're also planning on cross-publishing Web comments from appealdemocrat.com and from our Facebook pages.
• We'll be publishing more local editorials. Our goal is to give readers something to think about, rather than to tell them what to think.
Editorials will run under the label "Our View" and represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat editorial board. What that means, more exactly, is that members of the board have discussed issues and have come to an agreement on how to stand on certain issues.
The editorial board consists of permanent members: the publisher, Paula Patton, Editor Steve Miller, City Editor Eric Vodden and News Editor Richard Olmsted. Other staff members sit in on meetings as guests.
After discussion and some agreement on opinion, various members of the board are assigned the task of writing editorials and they are always edited and approved by the publisher and/or editor.
• We're looking for community liaisons to the editorial board. We want input about what issues are most relevant to local residents and to gain access to a variety of viewpoints.
We are interested in applicants who can take part in civil dialogue and back-and-forth discussion; we're not interested in strictly partisan politics and arguing. We're asking that community representatives sit in on at least one meeting per month.
Meetings last an hour and are at 4 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
Apply by emailing email@example.com.
Supply me with a short message about why you would like to work with the editorial board and what your qualifications are; and list a few of the issues you believe are most important to the community.