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Empire Editorial: Unshared ideas have no value

Posted: October 11, 2013 - 12:12am

The foundation of our constitution, and to a greater extent democracy as a whole, is rooted in the concept that, in order for a country or community to thrive, there must be a free exchange of ideas. The Greeks are credited as the first to establish this model of government, but as Americans we like to think it was we who perfected it. And even though the ways we choose to express ourselves, or perhaps even the words we use in doing so, may not always come across perfectly, the intention most often is pure: to share ideas and be the instrument of progress and change for the better.

For nearly 300 years, newspapers in our country have offered a center stage to do just that by providing a forum within its pages where civic-minded individuals are able to express themselves and their views, often with the hopes of encouraging progress, awareness or simply community involvement.

Newspapers have changed considerably since those days, though the mission of newspapers in regard to sharing ideas and encouraging educated, civilized debate has held true for centuries. We at the Empire believe in this philosophy whole-heartedly. It’s an unwritten requirement when working in the field of journalism. But our believing in the freedom of speech, expression and public discourse isn’t enough on its own. We need dedicated readers like all of you for this ideal to come to fruition.

The Empire’s Opinion page is intended for our readers. Think of it as a blank canvas that needs a fresh coat of paint each day, only instead of hues of red, blue and yellow our canvass needs fresh words and ideas. More specifically, your words and your ideas.

What we hope the community embraces, however, is the need for letters and commentaries to remain poignant and on topic. Often emotions can get the better of us, especially when the topic is one we feel passionately about, and most often when a submitted letter or My Turn is withheld from printing it is because of name-calling or accusations that lack supporting evidence. When civilized debate is reduced to venomous ranting we believe that few people, if any, benefit from what is being said. We encourage you to be passionate and to be loud, but to be respectful of your neighbors.

Send us a letter or My Turn column about topics that matter to you. Whether you’re a fisherman, lawmaker, state employee or stay-at-home parent, we want to hear from everyone who calls Southeast Alaska home. Which side of an argument you fall on matters not. What does matter is that your voice be heard.

Often readers will call the Empire with feedback regarding an editorial or article that was published, and in many cases the feedback is critical. When this happens, we encourage the reader to submit a letter or My Turn for the paper explaining their view on the topic. Seldom does this lead to a submission, as readers are worried about putting their opinions out there to be judged by the community. We hope to see this trend change. Good ideas need to be shared. Always. A good idea that isn’t shared is of no value to anyone.

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