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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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Political commentary is the backbone of The Signal’s Opinion page. While syndicated columnists who address state, national or world issues are part of our mix, our focus as a community newspaper is on local columnists who address local issues, and we welcome your contributions.
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We don’t want readers scratching their heads at the end of the column and asking themselves, “Now, what was that all about?”
•Do have a clear goal, which is usually persuasion. Unless the goal is strictly informational, which political columns usually are not, your column should be aimed at persuading readers to agree with your point of view and/or to take action on your arguments.
The most effective way to persuade is by logical, reasoned argument. That’s not to say emotion can’t be part of an effective argument, but arguments should be grounded in a logical appeal. Each argument should be supported by specifics — examples, analogies, anecdotes.
Alternatively, the column may recount one long story/anecdote that illustrates your point, but it should be specific and well told.
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•Do seek fresh, thoughtful topics. Trust your personal impressions/feelings, but analyze them for logic. Being a local paper, we of course value columns that deal with local issues. But if we’ve already published 16 columns on the hospital expansion, for example, we would appreciate it if you sought topics elsewhere — unless, of course, you have a spanking-new perspective that nobody else has mentioned.
•Back up your claims. Attribute your information. It will add credibility to your point of view. “A recent poll said that…” is not enough. Cite the poll, study or whatever, who or what entity released it, and when. Provide a Web address if possible. Columns with unattributed information will be returned for revision.
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Put simply, plagiarism is the theft of intellectual property. It is stealing other people’s ideas — not just their words, but their thoughts — and passing those off as one’s own.
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•Don’t engage in mudslinging and shrill accusations. That’s counterproductive. True, public figures such as City Council members are virtually impervious to libel. But if your goal is persuasion, are you going to win hearts by calling the opposition the slime of the earth? No. Name-calling does not constitute an argument; all it does is drive away everyone who doesn’t already agree with you. A reasoned argument will be much more effective.
Thank you for your interest in contributing to The Signal’s Opinion page. We look forward to helping you share your voice with the community.
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