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EDITORIAL: A resolution to keep: Write a letter

Your opinion could shape other viewpoints about topics large and small — from what's happening in your neighborhood to decisions in Washington, D.C.

The Echo Press provides the forum to do just that. Our Opinion page contains a robust mix of thoughts on a variety of interesting topics. As 2018 kicks into gear, we urge readers to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and share their perspectives.

We want readers to know that we do not selectively pick and choose which letters or commentaries get in the paper. As long as they meet our basic guidelines, they're printed.

To get you prepped for the new year, here's a list of items that appear on the Opinion page, along with our policies and requirements.

• Letters to the editor. This is the easiest way to get your two-cents in about an issue, a story, something you read on the Opinion page or any other thoughts. Letters must be 300 words or fewer. They must include a name and address (only the name of the town will be printed). Also, include a phone number for verification purposes. Letters can't include personal attacks against private individuals. To encourage more voices on this page, writers are limited to one letter per 30 days. Letters (or other submissions for this page) can be emailed to, dropped off at the newspaper office, or sent to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.

• Paid political letters. This policy takes effect when the filing period for political offices begins — this year it's May 22 — and applies to letters that endorse candidates or political parties. Writers are limited to 200 words, one per 30 days, and are charged 10-cents per word. The newspaper is considering possible changes to this policy. Stay tuned.

• Commentaries. These are like letters to the editor only longer. The word limit is 700. Because they take up more space, they generally take longer to be printed so that's why we strongly encourage writers to trim their thoughts down to letter-to-the-editor size, when possible. Commentaries are a good way to address similar-sized editorials or columns that appear on this page.

• Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down. These are printed on Fridays, every other week as an Echo Press editorial. They are often submitted by readers. The Echo Press Editorial Board considers all thumbs, determines which ones to print and may add its own observations. A thumbs item may be submitted anonymously, but there is no guarantee it will be printed and the thumbs may be edited.

• Our Turn. These are columns written by the Echo Press editorial staff on a rotating basis. They appear every Friday.

• Your Turn. These are comments culled from the newspaper's Facebook page and/or other social media. They are printed whenever the editorial board determines that a topic is drawing a good discussion among social media users.

• In the Know. This is a rotating weekly column in the Wednesday issue written by community leaders. Those currently in the rotation include Sara Carlson, Kathryn LeBrasseur, Carl Vaagenes, John Stone, Nicole Fernholz, Julie Critz, Jen Jabas, Rick Wyffels, Tara Bitzan, Troy Wolbersen and Laura Urban.

• History column. This is written by Rachel Barduson, appears in the Wednesday issue, and includes selected items from Echo Press archives from 100, 50, 25, and 10 years ago, along with a "Just for Fun" tidbit and a sports history note.

• Editorials. These appear in every issue and are the position of the Echo Press Editorial Board, which consists of Publisher Jody Hanson, Editor Jeff Beach and News Editor Al Edenloff. The newspaper also prints Guest Editorials from time to time that also reflect the opinion of the editorial board.

If you have questions about the Opinion page or our policies for it, feel free to email or call (320) 763-3133 and ask for the Opinion page editor.