Our local opinions are valued

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 18, 2003

We just can't wait to share it with someone.

That's usually the case when we see something that, to us, makes sense.

In today's information age, we're bombarded with more material than ever before.

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War. Abortion. Guns.

Whether we agree or disagree with them, there's usually a story or poem that we want to share.

We've got a lot of caring and sharing folks in this area. Not just those who you meet on the street, but those who want us to reprint what they feel everyone else should know about. At least on this page.

To those, I say 'thanks, but no thanks.' And here's why.

The opinion page is, well, just that. Every one of us has an opinion on just about everything. And that's how we want to keep it -- the opinions and views of people that live in this area.

Nearly everyday under this space, we do have the opinions of others. However, we put a face to match with their name. And they are columns from award-winning journalists who have done the homework on their issues. We may not always hit the mark on giving everyone what they want, but we try to do our best to offer a wide range of views from liberal (Molly Ivins) to conservative (George Will).

But what's the use of having a local opinion page if we're reprinting the unsigned opinions, theories, etc … of others?

It's one thing to recommend a Web site or an article for someone to read. It's different when someone wants to reprint large portions of it on the local newspaper's opinion page.

A reader highlighted me to an apparent instance when a local resident submitted a letter to the editor. Instead of being the opinion of that writer, nearly the entire letter was lifted from another source. It wasn't word-for-word the same, but it was pretty darn close.

Folks, that's a no-no. Some people call it plagiarism, others laziness. Personally, I think both are applicable.

We want people to submit opinions, but their own opinions. Having people cultivate their own thoughts and sharing them have helped make this page one of the most read in the newspaper.

Again, we ask that the opinions you submit on views and topics are yours and yours alone. It's that originality that will continue to make this page what it truly is: your opinion page.

Dan Fields can be reached at 4342230 or by e-mail at :mailto:dan.fields@austindailyherald.com