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Article posted: 5/23/2013 5:00 AM

Changes aim not just to interest but to engage

By Jim Slusher

We talk a lot at the Daily Herald about engagement. Providing stories and commentary that are interesting is one thing; providing stories and commentary that stir readers to act or to join in a conversation is something even better.

This week, we began a transition that aims to boost that "even better" standard for the Opinion page.

We're starting simply. Monday, as Editor John Lampinen announced in a front-page letter this week, we opened with a weekly commitment to emphasize your opinions, your observations and your reactions to the news with an expanded all-letters presentation. It has been a long-standing challenge for us to get more local voices into the paper beyond the two or sometimes three letters that fit into a small space on each day's editorial page. A larger commitment to letters on Saturday helped, but still left us looking for ways to better share the many thoughts readers offer.

The Monday emphasis will provide that option and we hope will help stir broader, more-diverse conversations about the topics that suburban readers care about.

In days and weeks ahead, we also intend to make more space available for local experts and political and social activists to expound in op-ed columns on topics that affect the suburban quality of life. And we aim to share highlights of editorials from around the state -- editorials that may or may not agree with our own point of view -- to help give you a broader feel for the arguments aiming to influence state and national affairs.

We of course will continue to offer a special emphasis on the views of diverse syndicated columnists, with a deep and thorough mix of ideas from across the political and social spectrum.

And, we'll still provide a range of views in the purely visual and uniquely affecting form of editorial cartoons, though now on most days we'll be offering them in full color. True, the use of color on the page is a function more cosmetic than substantive, but we think you'll find it does do more to attract your attention and perhaps your involvement as well.

Finally, in perhaps the strongest reflection of a spirit of engagement, we also want to interact more directly with you in real time regarding the issues we address in our editorials. So, we've committed to discussing our positions in specific conversations on Facebook. We will monitor reactions to our editorials throughout the day and respond when appropriate to questions or comments, and we will specifically host a conversation in real time about our editorials from 9:30 to 10 a.m. every weekday. Simply find our editorial online and join the conversation in the commenting section at the end.

Whether you agree or disagree with our point of view, we look forward to an open -- and of course civil -- discussion.

We hope you'll find all of these enhancements, and more changes that we'll implement along the way, to be things that increase your interest in the paper and the ideas that shape our communities, state and nation. But more than that, we also hope they encourage you to take a more active part in influencing those ideas.

It's always been important for us as a source of information and entertainment to catch and keep your interest. But it's even more important for all of us as a society to have you actively involved in reacting to the ideas you find on the Opinion page and putting them to use. Engaged, in other words.

Jim Slusher, jslusher@dailyherald.com, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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