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This is a time when communication is fast and sometimes careless, with partisan and often rude rants on social media becoming the norm rather than the exception. In such a climate, it can seem positively archaic to continue to use platforms that are based on civil, thoughtful discourse, with a forced period of time in between approach and response. When, for instance, is the last time you wrote a letter? Even emails are less common now than texts or other quick forms of conversation online, some of which can lead to miscommunication rather than mutual understanding.

So in a way it is not surprising that a regional media outlet, the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York state, has recently shut down its print edition opinion page and let its opinion engagement editor, John Penney, go after a couple of decades. Rather than letters to the editor, then, the back-and-forth of argument among its readers will be encouraged exclusively on the newspaper’s Facebook page. 

You may find yourself wondering if the conversation on Facebook will be quite as enlightening as it could be, as many of us write before we think there. And it’s hard to take it back once it’s out there. But fewer of us engage offline now, and it is likely there is a lot more activity on the paper’s Facebook page than there was previously on its opinion page in the print newspaper.

While it is good to engage as many readers and writers as possible, and The Lakeville Journal greatly values what we learn from readers on our Facebook page, this publication is grateful that we have readers who still see the charm in taking on contentious topics in our print pages. Our letters to the editor are still plentiful, varied and very well written, with cogent arguments being made on all kinds of topics every week. We will, therefore, not take the approach of some daily newspapers like the Poughkeepsie Journal and shut down this mode of communication. Not yet, anyway, as long as you, our readers, keep sending us your thoughts to publish here.

Thank you for doing that, and for keeping us and your neighbors informed of your thinking on the issues of the day. We believe that part of the role of a local community weekly newspaper is to encourage such communication (see our mission statement on this page), especially in a time when few other kinds of media do. We will keep at that as long as you take advantage of the opportunity to see your opinions in print. We value them and are proud to have them in our pages.