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Our View: Our pledge for vibrant local opinion

Posted: January 5, 2010 2:58 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

"Trust, but verify."

That bit of wisdom was made famous by Ronald Reagan in reference to the Soviet Union, but he's not credited with originating it.

We won't claim credit for it, either, but it's our new mantra for the opinion page.

Today we welcome local columnists back to The Signal with a pledge to both them and to our readers that we will verify their work to ensure its originality.

Regular readers of this page know at the tail end of 2009 we found ourselves embroiled in "Plagiarism-Gate" when two of our local columnists - one Republican, one Democrat - were discovered to have plagiarized.

Many people took us to task for not employing plagiarism-detection programs - some of which are free - to ensure our columnists weren't cheating.

We plead guilty.

In the world of journalism, plagiarism is a mortal sin. In our confidence that no one whose reputation is riding on our opinion page with his/her picture and byline would commit such an egregious sin, we were blinded to the creeping acceptance of plagiarism in our society.

No more.

To the fullest of our ability, we will from now on ensure none of our writers is stealing ideas from others.

But we pledge more than that.

In our polarized society today, spewing invectives toward the other side has, to a large extent, replaced intelligent discourse on the issues.

We pledge to avoid publication of future such polarizing messages, and to encourage our columnists to propose solutions, rather than pointing fingers.

We also pledge to encourage them to more frequently address local issues, or at least to address issues on the local level - where they, we and our readers are most empowered to effect change.

This is a tall order for them and for us. We invite your participation.

If there is an issue you would like to see addressed in our opinion page columns, please send it to us at letters@the-signal.com so we may pass it along to our writers. Or you may send it directly to columnists via the e-mail addresses at the beginning or end of their columns.

If you would like to address an issue yourself, we encourage you to write a letter or a column. Guest columnists are more welcome than ever. Guidelines for column writing are below.

With the help of our readers and our columnists, we pledge to offer a more thoughtful, useful and interesting opinion page.

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