Don't forget to write


Published: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 31, 2005 at 10:40 p.m.
Listen, I've been to two rodeos and a goat-roping. But I never saw anything like 2005.
We're talking war and wind, politics and pestilence, farce and pathos, a colossal clash of cultures and high-tech meets the old Testament. Blink and you missed something really spectacular.
But enough about that. It's history, really. Old news. Put paid to the year that was. Tidy up last night's empty champagne bottles and get over it.
Which brings me to 2006. I don't want to complain, but it started hours ago. It's what .... 9 a.m.?, 10 a.m.?, noon now?
But you don't write, you don't call. We're burning daylight here, folks. There's less than 365 days to go. And we publish every day. Death may take the occasional holiday, but not us.
And the thing is, we really need your help in 2006.
You who give voice to Voice of the People.
You who speak up for Speaking Out. You who talk back for Talking Back. Every day. Seven days a week. Fifty-two weeks a year.
Our highly-skilled staff of well-paid opinion professionals (both of us) can't do it without you. These are your pages. You make of them what you will.
Somebody once said there's nothing new under The Sun. But you and I know better, don't we?
We know that every time we sit down at a keyboard and thrust ourselves into the argument of daily life, we give birth to something new.
An opinion. A bright, shining point of view. A slightly different take on the other guy's two cents worth. An unconventional divergence from the conventional wisdom.
And while we're on the subject of opinion, here's mine.
Nothing we do on The Sun's daily opinion pages is more important than giving you the space and ink to share your opinion with your fellow readers.
I'll take that one step farther. Our daily offering of reader opinions is the heart and soul of this newspaper. It is our license to participate in participatory democracy. You help give life and vitality to our pages.
Last year, we published approximately 2,000 letters to the editor about everything under The Sun. Last year we published nearly 400 guest columns - Speaking Outs and Talking Backs. The great majority were written by people who live inside The Sun's circulation area. Your friends and neighbors.
So it comes down to this in 2006. If you think the liberals are dominating our letters page, I promise you it's because not enough conservatives are jumping into the argument of daily life.
If you think our letter writers are piling on George Bush, then by all means speak up for W.
If you're tired of the incessant partisan sniping and the ideological wars, write about what gets your juices flowing. Traffic jams and idiot drivers? Urban sprawl? The price of oil? Roundabouts, red tape or runaway health care costs? It's all grist for our opinion mill.
You think nobody's paying attention? Think again.
The mayor reads us every day. So do city and county commissioners, the sheriff, legislators, judges, local mucky-mucks and your representatives in Congress (or at least their staffers). Not to mention butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and, most likely, your neighbor.
So please, plunge into the argument of daily life with us in 2006. We'll try to make it easy for you if you go to our Web page (Gainesville.com).
From our home page, click on "News," and then click on "Opinions." You'll find a letters link on the upper left-hand side of the opinions page. In addition, our letters criteria appears nearly every day on the editorial page.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, give me a call at 374-5075, or e-mail me at voice@gvillesun.com. Or your can contact the other half of our extensive editorial staff, Sun cartoonist Jake Fuller, at 374-5057 or at fullerj@ gvillesun.com.
All we ask of letter writers is that they try to keep their offerings concise and to the point: 300 words or less holds reader interest and allows us to publish more daily letters. And to accommodate as many opinions as possible, we do have to limit writers to one letter per calendar month.
If an issue especially resonates with you and you think you've done enough homework to claim a particular expertise, then try your hand at a Speaking Out. They generally run in the 700-800 word range. And if we decide to publish it, we'll stick your photo on it as well.
And if you happen to read an editorial, news story or syndicated column that positively cries out for a response longer than letter-length, have at it and we'll consider publishing it as a Talking Back. Same length as Speaking Out.
Look, if you think 2005 was a year for the record books, you ain't seen nothing yet. I mean, this is an election year. So lock up the family silverware and sharpen your point of view, because the arguing is going to get hot and pointed in 2006.
As for me, I just want to thank all of you who took the time to write - who jumped into the argument of daily life - in 2005. You truly helped make our pages worth reading.
But seriously, folks. The clock's running. It's now, what? Noon? 1 p.m.? The party's over, and we're hours into the new year.
And still you don't write, you don't call.
Ron Cunningham is The Sun's editorial page editor. Write him at cunninr@gvillesun.com.

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