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Opinion page changes coming soon

After several years of the same approach to the opinion pages in the Mail Tribune, we're making some changes we hope readers will appreciate.

We always have endeavored to present a wide range of opinions on these pages, covering the political spectrum from right to left and in between. The syndicated columnists we run provide a variety of viewpoints. That won't change, although you may see fewer nationally syndicated columns as time goes on, in favor of more local voices.

Here are the changes you'll see, beginning this week:

We're dialing back the number of "Our View" editorials that run in this space from five a week to three. Those editorials reflect the consensus opinion of the Mail Tribune Editorial Board, whose members are listed on this page every day.

We rarely weigh in on national topics, preferring to focus on local issues of importance to readers in the communities we cover. It's not always easy to come up with five solid topics to address every week, especially during holiday and vacation times. Running three a week instead of five will allow us to concentrate on the most pressing issues.

In place of the two editorials we're dropping, on Wednesday and Friday you'll see columns like this one, written by me, Editor Cathy Noah and Associate Editor Bob Hunter, adding a more personal take on community issues.

We're also starting a new feature called "Your View." Each "Our View" editorial will run with an invitation to readers:

"Do you disagree with this editorial? Write your own take on this issue in 500 words or less, and email it to gnelson@mailtribune.com. We'll run the best response in this space at the top of the page. If we receive multiple responses, we'll print excerpts from those elsewhere on the page."

Sorry, but we must insist on email submissions for this feature. We still accept handwritten or typed letters to the editor, but those must all be entered into our production system, we have limited staff to do that, and my typing skills have never been anything to brag about.

As always, we continue to welcome your letters of up to 200 words, and we're happy to say we still run everything we receive that meets our guidelines. If you send something that doesn't, we'll let you know and give you the opportunity to resubmit.

We also will continue to publish guest opinions of up to 750 words written by local contributors with some background or expertise in the subject they are addressing. Those may appear on any day, but are more likely to publish on Sundays, when we run an expanded three-page opinion section.

The point of all this is to encourage community conversation about the issues that matter to our readers. We're looking forward to the opportunity to include more voices in those conversations.

— Gary E. Nelson is editorial page editor of the Mail Tribune. Email him at gnelson@mailtribune.com.