Editorial: All views are still welcome in the newspaper

Published 9:02 am Monday, February 6, 2017

We’ve heard from concerned readers in the last week after the Tribune decided to temporarily suspend Jennifer Vogt-Erickson as a writer for the newspaper’s My Point of View column. The column runs every Tuesday on a rotating basis between the Freeborn County DFL and Republican parties. Vogt-Erickson has been a frequent writer for the DFL Party.

Since then, we have heard words such as “censor,” “ban” and “suppress.”

Although we always appreciate hearing from readers — and we thank you for caring — we ask you to have a little more confidence in us where those beliefs are concerned. We believe these words have been used to sensationalize the real issues at hand.

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This newspaper has always and will always continue to give equal ink to both sides of the political spectrum for the My Point of View column. This column is not going away, and people from both parties will continue, as in years past, to write on a rotating basis.

The writers of the column will focus on local and state politics and what the local parties are doing to promote needs and issues in the area.

Though we recognize that national politics have a trickle-down effect on us all, we want readers to know how the issues closest to home affect them and how they can get involved if they want to lobby for change.

As a community newspaper, we strive to include relevant, timely information for our readers, whether in the form of news stories or opinion columns. Community papers — which are much different than metro papers — are distinguished by their demonstrable levels of local engagement, rather than by the scope of their content, as defined by Wikipedia.

This newspaper aims to cover the nine dimensions of a healthy community supported by the Blandin Community Leadership Program. Those dimensions are economic opportunity, spirituality and wellness, lifelong learning, inclusion, recreational and artistic opportunity, environmental stewardship, infrastructure and services, safety and security and community leadership.

We recognize not everyone will be happy and agree with everything written in the newspaper. At a highly polarized time in our nation’s history, it is not difficult to find differences in opinion.

We expect you to be critical of our coverage. We need to know if we missed something or if one of our own reporters or a community member who submits something to the Tribune somehow doesn’t have the full story.

We encourage people who agree or disagree with any column — political or otherwise — to share their reactions and opinions in letters to the editor.

All writers who adhere to our guidelines — including sticking to the 500-word limit and not making libelous statements — will have their opinions printed as letters to the editor. People are allowed to submit one letter per week.

The same will apply to Vogt-Erickson in the future — if she so chooses. She is not and never will be banned from writing.

In working with the Freeborn County DFL Party leaders this week, they assured us they didn’t have a clear understanding of the My Point of View column. They requested a second chance for Vogt-Erickson at a later time if she abides by the guidelines, and we agreed.

We thank the DFL Party leaders we spoke with — and particularly former state Rep. Robin Brown — who demonstrated respect, understanding and a desire to have a good working relationship with the newspaper moving forward.

We ask that you, too, have the confidence that we strive for fairness with politics and all other issues.