If you have an opinion, don't be afraid to say it.
Every week, the Washington County Enterprise and Pilot-Tribune publish an opinion page, which is set aside for just that – opinions.
While these pages often contain cartoons and columns/editorials written by staff members, it's not reserved just for those. In fact, we would prefer if some of that space was filled by you, the readers, in the form of Letters to the Editor.
Letters to the editor can be a valuable tool for both local newspapers and their readers. They provide candid, personalized insight into the issues and goings-on in a community. These notes allow writers the chance to express concern, gratitude, suggestions and general commentary to items that affect readers.
If done correctly, letters to the editor can alert community officials and leaders to an problem they may not have considered before or they can gives readers a new perspective into an issue. Letters to the editor have been the catalyst behind drastic community change throughout history both locally and nationally.
Local reporters have their ears to the ground attempting to gather the news from all sides, which includes the people impacted by decisions. Without the input of readers,who are mostly tax-paying citizens of the communities the papers cover, the full story sometimes cannot be told.
The voice of the public is also important at meetings and other events where public input is allowed and encouraged. Reporters who cover these meetings sit in empty rooms more often than not and when an issue is approved, they may be the only one relaying the information. Sometimes when the public finds out about a new ordinance or a new measure approved by the board, it's too late for public input and disappointment or concern cannot be properly addressed.
Meeting agendas are publicly available and should be at least a day or two in advance. The public is encouraged to keep an eye on agendas and if an issue is of interest, attend. Not all who attend meetings have to address the board or council, but if an attendee feels the need, he or she is allowed time to provide input. Again, public input can lead to a new point of view.
Whether it's in the paper or in person, the public voice is vital but will go silent unless expressed in the proper avenues.
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