Last September, the News Bulletin rolled out a dedicated Opinion page featuring spotlighted readers’ comments from our website and Facebook, letters to the editor and this column.
Reviving the section leveled the playing field between readers, who aren’t necessarily newsmakers, and public officials and business leaders who regularly have their say. The section had dwindled over the years until it was non-existent, and we wanted to send a strong message that we care about what you think.
Because we do.
We care about how you view North Okaloosa County leaders’ governance, public safety, the economy, sports, arts and recreation. We read each Facebook and crestviewbulletin.com comment to understand consensus on these issues and about our coverage of them. And yes, since we’re human and prone to occasional mistakes or oversights, we learn how we can serve you better.
People are busier than ever, and many professionals have smart phones that keep them tethered to the office 24-7, so it’s a pretty big deal if you’re taking time to write us on local issues and to voice your view on the state of our area.
In the past, I tried each week to distill those sentiments into measured, fact-based commentary about a key issue. Sometimes, the message hit home; other times, it was lost in translation, and in a couple of instances, I admit it was the wrong message all together, and it took a couple of months and different perspectives for the real issue to surface.
Yes, this 10-month-old column has seen ups and downs; at times, many readers expressed gratitude for civilly holding public leaders, organizations and others accountable when they strayed from what seemed like reasonable expectations. Other times, many readers viewed efforts of accountability as unnecessary attacks.
After resting the column for a month to retool, I realized two things are certain: We all want the best for North Okaloosa County, but have different ways of getting there. In addition, North Okaloosa County residents don’t hold back when discussing local issues they care about; that’s evident in today’s Hubbub and letters to the editor.
So going forward, I’ll leave the passionate commentary to you, our readers. After all, you do it so well!
I’ll just add perspective to the current edition’s news stories, recognize everyday residents doing extraordinary things, and raise points, as needed, on local issues.
For instance, please read and re-read the Hubbub comments about crossing railroad trestles. (Print exclusive, Page A4, July 31, 2013 Crestview News Bulletin)
We know it’s a real concern in Crestview after two people encountered a moving train and, blessedly, survived last week; Holt, where one reader saw three people on the tracks; and probably other areas.
After hearing these reports, I recalled a high school video lesson — from back when they rolled TVs into the classrooms to show movies — and wondered, “Did Buddy Threadgoode’s death in ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ mean nothing?”
Railroads are non-negotiable and unforgiving. But I digress.
Our newly established editorial board, which already has formed positions on a couple of issues (see crestviewbulletin.com for past columns) will focus on key issues affecting the north county.
If there’s something you’d like to see in this column’s version 2.0, or if you would like to meet with the editorial board, please email me. Let’s all work together to find the best solutions for North Okaloosa County and help these areas meet and exceed their potential.
Thanks for reading.