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Editorial: Our New Year's resolutions

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opinion Perham, 56573

Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Some of our Facebook friends and several young community members recently shared their New Year's resolutions with us.

From getting better grades in school to losing weight, their answers were varied and honest.

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Now, we'd like to share ours with you.

As we head into 2013 with our new name, Perham Focus, we resolve to enhance our coverage of Perham.

In the next few weeks, you'll be seeing new weekly features and additions to our pages that will highlight the people, places and history of the community. We're increasing our efforts to become a true reflection of - and advocate for - the city and people of Perham.

We will continue to cover notable happenings in Ottertail, New York Mills and the surrounding areas, but we want every page to reflect Perham pride, at least in some small way.

And that includes our editorial page.

Moving forward, we resolve to make our editorial page a more accurate representation of the diverse viewpoints of all our readers, not just a few, and not just those who are on the fringe of any particular ideology.

We've already been trying to do that through our own editorials and columns, as well as our selections of guest editorials, cartoons and other professional opinion pieces.

Now, we're going to start being a bit more selective about letters to the editor.

Rest assured, we still intend to publish the vast majority of letters submitted. In fact, nothing would make us happier than to be flooded with letters - better still if those letters took on a whole host of topics, covering a broad range of viewpoints.

However, we will no longer encourage the use of this newspaper as anyone's personal sounding board by continuing to publish angry, volatile letters from the same one or two individuals week after week.

Admittedly, this is easier said than done.

As a small-town newspaper, we simply don't get that many letters submitted for publication. So when we do, it's difficult to turn one away. And, no matter how much we may personally disagree with what a letter writer has to say, the last thing we want to be accused of is censorship or bias in how we select letters for publication.

But it's time for us to put a cap on the amount of vitriol we allow to be spewed on our editorial page. It's simply not an accurate representation of what this community is really all about.

Of course, we want to have a vibrant, active editorial page that shows an engaged readership. In the past, we've sometimes decided to run controversial letters in a simple and earnest effort to get people talking, and in hopes of generating some written response from people of differing opinions.

Instead, we've been hearing on the street that people are afraid to write letters to this newspaper, for fear of public rebuttal (the word actually used was "attack") by a less-than-friendly writer. We've also heard people say they've considered ending their subscriptions to this newspaper purely because of certain letters to the editor.

That's certainly not what we want.

It's time for us to make a fresh start on our editorial page, and what better time for fresh starts than at the start of a New Year?

We welcome feedback and suggestions at any time. If there's something you'd like to see more of in the Focus, or less of, or if you have a story idea or anything else to share, contact Editor Marie Nitke at 346-5900 or editor@perhamfocus.com.

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