Local voices matter, and that will be our goal

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When news elsewhere affects Oklahomans, readers turn to local media to find out what solutions lawmakers and others who affect politics here plan to pursue. Tuesday’s murders of 19 fourth-graders in Texas are on everyone’s mind. Do the people of Oklahom want to read the same tired arguments from national experts on bracketed Second Amendment rights with meaningless comments about “thoughts and prayers”, or do we prefer to hear about possible solutions from local legislators, opinion leaders and community members?

USA Today polls have found that readers turn to local media not for national debates, but for conversations from a variety of local voices on issues important to their communities.

We often hear complaints about national columnists who are either too liberal or too conservative. Their scathing arguments do more to affirm political bias rather than unite people of different affiliations to seek solutions in a civil and productive way.

So, starting June 1, The Oklahoman will no longer include syndicated content in Viewpoints. And we’re moving opinion content for the print edition to Sunday only. The latest opinion pieces, guest columns and letters to the editor will be online at oklahoman.com.

Instead of commentary from columnists like Cal Thomas, George Will, Leonard Pitts, Clarence Page, Kathleen Parker and others, we’ll be posting more local voices from across the state. We’ll continue to engage with readers across Oklahoma and invite not only expert perspectives, but also first-person experiences from ordinary community members and even topical commentary. Let us know what you think of state laws, bills, and other state government actions. What’s going on in your city that you like or dislike? What changes would you implement for better results in your family or community? Your arguments can be impassioned or provocative, especially when aimed at helping readers become part of the solutions to the problems plaguing our state. Those that contain profane or degrading language will not be published.

Our decision to stop posting syndicated content reinforces our purpose when we reinvented the way we handle opinion last July: to foster strong community conversations and be an incubator of ideas that can be adopted for better outcomes for the Oklahomans. Since then, we have published comments not only from business leaders and elected officials, but also from other opinion leaders, professionals, parents, students and ordinary citizens concerned about their way of life. We want to publish your personal stories of how institutional programs and services affect you. We believe everyone has a stake in learning how community issues affect individuals and communities differently, so the space in Viewpoints is open to readers from all walks of life, including underserved communities.

Since most of the editorial cartoons we publish come from trade unions, today might also be the last time we are able to publish a full page of cartoons. We will post cartoons from the USA Today Network when they become available.

Your voice counts more than any institutional point of view. Use it and we’ll help amplify your personal experiences, concerns, and requests for action.

Clytie Bunian,

Clytie Bunyan is the Editor of Diversity, Community Engagement and Opinion.

Library visit

We want to help you get your opinion out there, so Viewpoints is taking a library tour. We will offer guidelines on how to write an editorial or letter to the editor. Our first stop will be June 24 at the Library of Bethany. In August, we will be at the Downtown Library during the Literary Festival. Look for upcoming schedules which may include a stop at your community library.

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