Today, you opened the newspaper and probably noticed something different.



Your opinion matters, so today’s Crestview News Bulletin features a development a month in the making: a regular source that keeps the conversation going and includes the following sections you can expect:



·         From the Editor’s Desk: a column that usually will give readers a glimpse “behind the curtain” on news-selection decisions or otherwise would add substance to our A1 stories.



·         Word on the Street: Weekly, our news staff will pound the pavement, asking residents for their input on our question of the week.



·         A local columnist. Currently, we will run commentary from a familiar face, Bob Allen, but we encourage guest columnists and talented writers to weigh in on local issues or provide a nice slice of life for Crestview, Baker, Holt, Milligan or Laurel Hill.  We prefer non-elected officials, average Joes and Jeanettes who don’t usually appear in the paper.



·         Hubbub: a collection of the most thoughtful or humorous Facebook or Twitter comments we received the prior week. This also is the space for any letters to the editor.



The Opinion section isn’t new to the News Bulletin. Upon checking the paper’s archives, I noticed that this once-regular section comprising several regular features evolved and evolved and evolved until, well, there wasn’t much of a section.



In life, things change. Sometimes, newspaper staffers focus their energies on a certain story or other opportunity that seems more important at the time, and other things, inadvertently, fall by the wayside. Newton’s law of gravity states that whatever goes up must come down, and I suppose the rule reaches into other disciplines. For instance, I’ve seen the quality of my favorite TV sitcoms and dramas nosedive in their later years, and recall appointment-television newscasts making inexplicable changes to the detriment of content.



However, when it comes to the newspaper, any reason for this focal shift can’t justify the erosion and ultimate exclusion of an Opinion page. After all, newspapers celebrate freedom of speech and accountability, and those values extend far beyond the newsroom.



YaleUniversitylaw professor Thomas Emerson said that freedom of speech acts as a so-called safety valve that allows anyone to express his or her opinion without resorting to revolt.



Oprah Winfrey, in interviews explaining her daytime talk show’s massive success, stated a belief she said everyone shares: “We want to know that we matter. We want to know that we were heard and that what we had to say meant something.”



We in the newsroom see the comments readers make on Facebook, and understand that you want to be heard. Whether you’re posting about lighter concerns — like snakes you spotted in your yard — or more serious topics like motorcycle safety following a fatal crash, whether the city should involve itself more in West Nile virus prevention, or speaking out on funding for public transit, it doesn’t matter. The common thread is that you believe your voice can add to the debate, and possibly help someone or otherwise make a difference.  



We believe so, too.



This publication supports regular, robust discussion on issues you care about, and we understand how vital it is for the public to have a proverbial safety valve that allows them to let off some steam.



So go ahead and write in. That’s what this page is here for.



Thomas Boni is the Editor of the Crestview News Bulletin. Email him at tboni@crestviewbulletin.com, tweet him @cnbeditor, or call 682-6524.
What's your view? Email news@crestviewbulletin.com with the subject "My view." Letters must be 250 words or less and written on local issues.