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Right or left, we run columnists who make you think

August 15, 2009|By JOHN LEAGUE

When we began running Charley Reese's column about 25 years ago, he was a little-known writer. Over time, he found a small, but loyal national following, including readers of The Herald-Mail.

Without doubt, Charley Reese's no-nonsense approach to life and column-writing struck a chord with our readership that no other columnist during that time did.

Ever since Reese fell ill and stopped writing his column, we've been struggling to find a replacement for him on the Opinion page.

Over the past few months, we tried a few syndicated columnists, and we're finally set on our editorial page lineup.

We've added two columnists who are decidedly conservative -- David Limbaugh and Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Krauthammer.

Limbaugh is an author, lawyer and younger brother of Rush Limbaugh, radio's most popular talk show host. You won't find him in many newspapers, but we thought his column was well written and would be embraced by our readership.

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Ditto for Krauthammer. He's a bit more of a policy wonk than our other columnists, but his columns are smart and provocative (like his column on Sunday, Aug. 9, on health care reform).

Limbaugh and Krauthammer will join holdovers Kathleen Parker and Leonard Pitts, another Pulitzer Prize winner.

Parker at one time billed herself as a conservative, but she's appeared to move closer to the center in recent years. Pitts is an unapologetic liberal.

Our goal with the columnists is to represent our readership while presenting all points of view. Some newspapers give you a full complement of conservative writers. Others fully flex left of center. Many offer both, as we try to do, but with a conservative tilt.

Excellent columnists, whether on the right or left, write well and write smart. They force readers, pro or con, to think about their positions. They reinforce those who believe in their causes and/or intellectually challenge readers who don't agree with them.

Over the years, I've found reader reaction to columnists on the editorial page of a newspaper is a lot like listener reaction to radio talk show hosts.

The good columnists and talk show hosts have relatively large, loyal followings, and usually a nearly-as-large group of detractors.

The goal of a good column is to get people to think, whether you agree with it or you don't. And the goal of an editorial page should be light, not heat.

Debating issues of politics and policy is central to our democratic system of government. We think the variety of columnists in The Herald-Mail help to define the issues and present thoughtful viewpoints for you, the readers.

As former columnist Reese once said: "It's not important to me if people agree or disagree with my point of view. What I hope my column does is provoke people into thinking about issues, about the world, and their place in it."

We believe these writers will do just that.

John League is editor and publisher of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7073, or by e-mail at jleague@herald-mail.com.

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