Beginning next week, the Press-Herald is adding a pair of columnists to our award-winning Opinion Page.
On Tuesday's page, we will debut columnist Ed Baswell. Then the next day (Wednesday the 18th), we will introduce political columnist Sam Hanna Jr.
Baswell is the host of a live radio talk show, "Crossfire Radio," on THE PROMISE 90.7 FM. The show focuses on current events, features lively political debates and takes calls from listeners.
However, Press-Herald readers may recognize Baswell from his years on the air reporting the sports for KTBS-Channel 3.
Hanna is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe and serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun. The three newspapers are owned and operated by the Hanna family. His column will focus primarily on Louisiana politics.
Both men will add their unique signatures to the page. New perspectives are important, and we are always looking for ways to improve our Opinion Page. And that's an important thing. Improving the page is always a goal, even though the Press-Herald's Opinion Page has been honored twice in the past four years as one of the best in the state.
This is the latest in a line of new columnists we have introduced in recent months. With the retirement of longtime columnist Oliver North, we brought in award-winning syndicated columnist Froma Harrop for a fresh perspective from "the slightly left" as she calls herself.
We are also set to bring back local columnist Vince Vella, who has been on vacation over the summer. Vella's column will return in October and run twice a month, the first week and third week.
From a standpoint of idealism, the Opinion Page is arguably a newspaper's most important. It's where ideas and opinions are meant to be shared and a free exchange of information is encouraged.
We have become so fragmented as a society, so entrenched in the "my opinion is the only opinion that matters" mentality, that we often fail to even extend the courtesy of considering the views of others.
At the Press-Herald, we try to present opinions of all viewpoints. We have conservatives, liberals, moderates, libertarians and even an anarchist or two from time to time. And for that balance, we've been likened to the left-leaning New York Times in our views and also the right-leaning Fox News.
We have had people cancel subscriptions because the page is "too conservative" and we've had people cancel subscriptions because the page is "too liberal." All I have to say is that if someone gets so angry they cancel their paper because they don't like what a columnist says then there are bigger issues in their lives that should be of concern. (Most of those people returned after a while anyway).
We will continue to present different views, differing perspectives. It is good to hear other opinions, to question, to debate, to reevaluate your beliefs and see if they have shifted or if they are as strong as ever.
So let's welcome our new columnists, let's embrace our existing ones, and let's all continue to seek new thoughts and ideas. Because that free exchange of perspective, continuing to learn and educate ourselves is how we continue to grow as human beings.
Josh Beavers is the publisher of the Minden Press-Herald.