Don Rogers: Op-ed all about contribution
Oh yeah, I hear it: That rag will print anything.
And get goose pimples. Damn straight.
Right wing, left wing, milquetoast mushy middle? If you live here, we’ll make room for your thoughts with only one or two, OK, maybe three or four little caveats: Tell the truth as you know it. Base your opinion on facts from mainstream, “lamestream,” legitimate sources. Don’t libel. Don’t give us private grievances, only your take on public issues. And … that’s pretty much it.
We’re not the oh-so-important national media. You don’t have be somebody to get in. We’re not trying to be the thought leaders, the nose-holders atop some pinnacle of established wisdom.
Indeed, we lack all pretense. I’ve received email with pictures of my very own columnist picture in the barbecue about to be lit, the bottom of the bird cage about to be, well, never mind. This from my friends!
We are humble, podunk, community. We’re all about participation and not at all about your credentials, your crystalline prose style, how many years you happened to exist in one place on this great globe of ours.
Just be honest, have a heart for a better world right here, have your facts in order even if your take on them might wander outside convention.
That’s it. We run ’em as we get ‘em. Republicans, looking at you. If you are cranky because too many libs are getting in, well, pick up your pen, tap your keyboard, hit send.
Same goes for progressives so quick to call crying we’ve given ourselves entirely over to those awful rednecks.
Sometimes I get those calls and emails one right after the other about the very same edition. Plainly, you folks aren’t reading the whole website or paper, only for the nits you want to pick. We can’t possibly be both right wing and scary “socialist,” can we?
Besides, why all the excitement over one page, sometimes two? Did you miss the big type denoting Opinion? It’s just your neighbors.
Anyway, participate, participate, participate. That’s what community is supposed to be about, where we work out our differences with our words in the public squares. It’s actually great we live where this opportunity still exists, where everyone gets to weigh in at maybe a little more factual, reasoned level than social rumor mill, say.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE
Short takes of 200 words are letters to the editor. Guest columns run up to 750 words. The limits are short to match readers’ attention spans for these pieces and to get in other contributions.
You can send to us through our website by clicking Submissions, which opens to a page showing the links to submit letters, guest columns, news tips and so on.
Electronic means of communication have gaps. We don’t always receive what you send. Maybe your pearl of wisdom got mixed up in a sea of junk email. Maybe the message didn’t land in our in boxes. Maybe an overzealous filter screened out your gem.
But give us a couple of days to get back with a “thanks for submitting, is this really you email?” to confirm your submission.
I’ll read your piece and check your facts. We’ll talk, generally via email, if I find problems. For instance, it’s not a fact widespread fraud caused former President Donald Trump to lose the election. It is a fact some people persist in believing this anyway.
There are several ways to deal with factual issues. We can delete passages that don’t pass muster. We can attribute claims of belief in questionable assertions. You can rewrite a piece into something we — a mainstream local news and opinion entity — can run. I can write a note clarifying a point.
The last alternative is to not accept a piece because the assertions of facts just don’t match conventional reality. That is, what we can attribute to a legitimate source. QAnon theory, say, is less likely to find a home here. Sorry.
Still, opinions based on facts fit a wide range of worldviews. Plenty of readers declare a lack of factual basis when the difference actually lies in interpretation of evidence and observation.
I prefer reading and publishing opinions that run counter to my own views. This apparently is strange to some readers, who suggest we hold back anything we disagree with. But why? The reading is far more interesting when there’s a good range of takes on a topic or issue. This is the basis of debate, the good, honest sort vs. nasty contests of the smartest persons in the room we too often find in comments and Facebook sites.
Our filter for publication is your command of facts and sources. Your opinion about those is what makes our world more interesting.
So the obstacle to your views getting in The Union or the Sierra Sun, frankly, is only you. You have to show up. If you do, we’re here for you. That’s what community is really about. Contribution.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.
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