Still a chance to make your voice heard
I’ve gotten a decent response to my request for people to join our new commentary pages feature, Independent Voices, but more voices are needed.
I put out the call on Nov. 15, and to date, 33 people have submitted their names. My hope is to have 100 people involved in the project.
The odd thing is, it seems like men are far more ready to share their opinions than women. Men are outnumbering women by 3-1.
Here are the other demographic oddities among the early entrants:
I’ve received a good response from Glenwood Springs and Carbondale residents, but only two from Rifle, five from Parachute and Battlement Mesa, and none – that’s right, not one – from New Castle or Silt.
For age groups, I’ve gotten a healthy response from people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 70s. But I have not received any responses from teens, only four from folks in their 20s, and only one from people in their 60s.
So, I am putting out a renewed call for more applicants.
At this point, all ages and both genders are welcome. But to bring a balance to our overall group, I especially encourage women, young people and folks in their 60s, and residents of New Castle, Silt and Rifle to respond.
The key to making Independent Voices a success will be diversity of opinions. Differing ages, genders and communities of residence won’t necessarily equate to differing opinions, but it sets us up for a better chance for wide-ranging responses.
In case you missed the first column introducing Independent Voices, let me recap the concept. The new feature will be part of the redesign of the Post Independent, which we are planning to launch in time for eggnog and shortbread.
Independent Voices will run every Friday on the commentary pages. Groups of readers will answer a question that I send them earlier in the week. Sometimes the question will be lighthearted, other times it will be dead serious. Questions may focus on a local issue, a statewide concern or foreign policy.
My goal is to enroll 100 readers, so we are one-third of the way there.
Please send me your name, age, occupation, mailing address, e-mail address and phone number if you would like to be included (email@example.com). We are planning a photo shoot from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Post Independent office, 2014 Grand Ave., in Glenwood Springs. Photos are required.
Independent Voices is largely operating by e-mail. If you like the idea but don’t have access to e-mail, we can communicate by telephone and fax. (Our fax number is 945-4487.)
I will sort participants into diverse groups of eight to 10 people to answer questions on a rotating basis. With a full 100 people, each individual’s turn will come up only once every 10 weeks, so it won’t be a big imposition. If we fall short, the groups will rotate more frequently.
On Friday or the following Monday, I will e-mail that week’s question out. Participants must return their answer of 50 to 100 words by midnight Wednesday. Writers will have to pack their opinion into two or three tight sentences.
We’ll have space for five answers. Asking the question of a few extra people allows participants to slide if they are too busy to respond or aren’t interested in the topic, and will allow us to pick the five most interesting and diverse answers.
Some people may have been put off by the information I am requesting from people signing up, such as age, phone number or mailing address.
When it comes to publishing Independent Voices, here’s what we will print: a mugshot, a name, occupation and hometown. For example: Heather McGregor, newspaper editor, Glenwood Springs. The other information I requested will only be used to sort everyone into well-balanced groups; it won’t be published or shared with anyone else.
Also, one respondent misunderstood the group concept, and thought he would have to meet with the others in his group to form an opinion. He vastly overestimated our organizational abilities! In fact, Independent Voices members will be given a question directly, and send their answer directly to me. They may never meet each other.
I hope to hear from you soon.
– Heather McGregor, Managing Editor
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