It’s 2020, and there are so many things to look forward to. For us here at The Riverdale Press, it’s a celebration of our 70th anniversary.
Think about that for a moment. Since David and Celia Stein put together their first issue of The Press in February 1950, there have been 3,640 editions of the paper. In a society where local news is falling through the cracks as more and more journalistic outlets shut down, this is just fantastic to hear. And all of us feel fortunate, I hope, to live and work in a community where such news continues to thrive.
Not that you’re always going to agree with it. We would never expect you to. In fact, from the very first issue, we have provided space for you to share your voice on our Opinion pages to talk about anything you want, even about us. Nothing we share or do is above scrutiny, nor should it ever be.
It’s a tradition that I am proud to continue as editor. I’ve actually worked at and even led papers where opinion pages were a figment of the past, or never even existed. Newspapers that don’t allow room for readers to speak are newspapers that aren’t fully connecting with the communities they serve, and while I know it’s inconvenient for some writers trying to get onto our pages, I’m proud of the fact that we have a backlog of letters, as we try to get each and every voice in the paper.
Since 2009, this paper has published 1.2 million words written by you, our readers. About the same length as the novel version of “Les Misérables.” Twice. That includes more than 400,000 words since my arrival in March 2017.
With 2020, we were hoping to do something a little different. Normally, someone submits a letter or a Point of View, and it may take a couple weeks or even more for someone to respond. It’s not the best way to get both sides of a discussion, and even on our Opinion page, we want you to have the opportunity to hear as much information and thoughts that are available so that you can draw your own conclusion.
With that in mind, on March 5, we’re publishing a new feature: Point/Counterpoint. This will give you, our favorite writers, a chance to talk about points, to pick a side, and to have it run at the same time as an opposing view.
So this is how it works. At some point, on the Opinion page, I’ll throw out a “point,” like this one, which we can use for March 5: We need to build more affordable housing.
But then there’s a “counterpoint,” like this one: Our community is way too overbuilt.
If you had to choose one side or the other, which way would you go? More affordable housing could mean more building. But less building could mean less affordable housing.
Thought about it? Great! Now we want to hear from you.
Take a position. Write it up in a letter to the editor of at least 500 words, but no more than 600. Make sure you sign your full name (which will be published), and include an address and phone number (which will not be published), and email it to email@example.com no later than 5 p.m., on Feb. 21. In the subject line, let us know if this is a “Point” or a “Counterpoint.”
Of those submissions, we will select one “Point” and one “Counterpoint,” and publish them side-by-side. If you’re not chosen, don’t worry — we’ll also publish all other qualified submissions, either in print, or online, or both. So whether you’re selected or not, you’ll still get your voice heard.
But what about some of our regular submission rules? Like the rule that puts six weeks in between submissions from the same author? Good news on that — any material submitted for Point/Counterpoint is exempt from that rule. So don’t worry about it preventing you from submitting thoughts on other topics — this is a special event outside of our normal offerings.
Let’s hear what you have to say! What’s more important? More affordable housing, or less building? Write up something between 500 and 600 words, and get it to us no later than Feb. 21.
The author is editor of The Riverdale Press.