Some recent letters to the editor have sparked rather interesting and important conversations throughout Perham over the last several weeks, and I believe it's time we clear up a few misconceptions.
The goal with our newspaper's Opinion page is to give readers an outlet to have their voice heard. It's the "people's page"—a place where local citizens can exercise their first amendment rights, and we love when the people of Perham participate. We strive for open dialogue about what's happening in and around this town. It's a healthy and an important role of newspapers. We are not encouraging weekly and ongoing back and forths between writers on two sides of an issue, although if a project is controversial, we do strive to be balanced — not only in our news reporting but also in the opinions of readers represented on our Opinion pages.
However, just because a letter to the editor or a guest column is printed, does not mean that we at the Focus agree with that particular viewpoint. We simply agree that those viewpoints have a right to be printed, so long as they're not libelous, slanderous, threatening or anonymous. We don't pick and choose which letters we print based on content or views.
The columns on our opinion page that do reflect our own opinions are the Focus editorials. That opinion is decided largely by myself and our editor, Paula Quam, although we take input from our other staff members as well. On the other hand, a guest editorial or column from someone who isn't on our staff is simply the opinion of that writer, not ours.
The opinion page of any newspaper is vital to a community, whether it's Washington D.C., Duluth or right here in Perham. This is a place for your voice, and it encourages great discussion within the community.
We work very hard to report on all the important news and sports events in Perham and take pride in being that primary source for the community. As our town grows and evolves, we'd love for this to be the place where substantive conversations can be started and ideas expressed because this is your town and your page.