Letter to Readers: New Facebook initiative involves you in our discussions

Updated 9/11/2017 10:23 AM

Dear Readers,

Hosea Paddock's refreshingly direct description of the Daily Herald's motto -- "to fear God, tell the Truth and make money" -- gets a lot of attention, but a phrase from his son adds a deeper dimension to the paper's historical aim. And it features prominently in efforts we're undertaking to help you get involved with us through social media.


"The only excuse a newspaper has for its existence is the community service it can give," said Stuart R. Paddock Sr.

He died in 1968, but the sense of community involvement he instilled has continued through decades of change at the Daily Herald. It was with us as Stuart's son Stuart R. Paddock Jr. navigated the newspaper into daily publication in the 1970s and through expansion into more than 90 communities throughout the suburbs as the 20th century drew to a close. It resonates with us today as the media landscape changes for the Daily Herald and all newspapers, and nowhere is it more in evidence than on our Opinion page.

Here is where we most directly host conversations with and among readers -- with our own voice as well as through the voices of opinion columnists and, significantly, of everyday citizens through letters to the editor. This interaction, the freewheeling discussion of the events and issues being reported in the news, adds a critical dimension to the paper's role in our democracy, enabling people to influence their communities by shaping contemporary events from the perspectives of their own daily lives.

Social media have given that function new power, and we hope you'll join us in responsibly taking advantage of it through our re-envisioned Daily Herald Voice of the Suburbs Facebook page. If you're among the nearly 950 people who previously "liked" our editorial board's Opinion page on Facebook, you're automatically part of this new conversation. If you haven't previously joined us, we hope you'll find the page now, click "Like" and regularly share your thoughts about the items posted there.

We intend those posts to reflect the spirit of engagement and discussion that's always been at the heart of our print Opinion page's mission. But we'll add more, too. We'll link to thought-provoking videos. We'll post connections to blogs and political and social websites. We'll share songs and poetry. We'll be serious, and we'll be playful.

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In short, we'll host and encourage thoughtful, wide-ranging conversations about events in our communities, our state and our nation. We'll make ourselves more available as an editorial board to discuss the opinions of our own that we publish, as well as those of our columnists, selected letters to the editor and even other socially and politically active agencies and individuals.

We're committed to assuring that this is a productive and responsible forum. We encourage passion, wit and fun, but we also intend to keep this community's conversations from devolving into the rash name calling and crass condescension that has come to stereotype online interactions. We will moderate conversations that respect diverse points of view and engage citizens who care not just about expressing their own emotions but even more about positively influencing the thinking of their friends, neighbors and, yes, adversaries.

We're excited about the potential this new initiative offers to get people talking about what's happening in the news. It's out of that kind of engagement that communities grow stronger, that our political leaders make better decisions, that each of us becomes wiser and more energized. It, ultimately, is the only excuse for our existence, and we're glad to find new ways to involve you in the mission.

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