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Readers frequently ask who decides which views and which columns appear on the opinion pages, how those choices are made and by whom.

So in the spirit of transparency and encouraging public participation, here are answers to some FAQs from readers of The Press Democrat's editorial and Forum pages.

What is the purpose of the editorial page?

Our role is to comment on the news, express the views of the editorial board and to provide a forum for readers to present their opinions. Our goal is also to provide a variety of commmunity perspectives and to advocate for effective public policy.

Who decides the paper's editorial views?

The editorial board consists of Publisher Bruce Kyse, Editorial Director Paul Gullixson and Editorial Writer Jim Sweeney. They discuss potential editorials and interview candidates for campaign endorsements.

Is the newsroom involved?

No one in the newsroom assigns or writes editorials, and no one from the editorial pages assigns, reports or edits news articles.

May I write for the opinion pages?

Yes. We publish letters to the editor every day, and we frequently publish Close to Home opinion columns written by local readers.

How do I submit a letter?

Letters should be no more than 200 words long and include the names and home towns of no more than two authors. Letters should be sent to letters@pressdemocrat.com, or click on link at pressdemocrat.com/letters. For logistical reasons, letters submitted by e-mail are more likely to be published.

Are all letters published?

No. We receive two or three times more letters than we have space to print. We look for letters on local subjects, but don't limit letters to local issues. We also look for letters that express new viewpoints. You may submit a letter for publication every 90 days.

Do you publish letters that express views contrary to the editorial board?

Yes. In fact, we welcome contrary views. The opinion pages are intended to reflect a spectrum of viewpoints.

How do I submit a column?

Close to Home columns appear on the Forum page and can run up to 600 words. These typically provide greater detail and context on subjects of local significance and often are written by people involved in an issue. As with letters, Close to Home columns are limited to two signatures.

Are all Close to Home columns published?

No. As with letters, we receive too many to publish them all in the newspaper.

Do letters and Close to Home columns appear on your Web site?

Yes. Almost everything that appears on the editorial and Forum pages also appears on pressdemocrat.com. We also use the Web site for extra letters and columns, particularly Close to Home columns, that didn't appear in the paper.

What else is at the Web site?

We also have the Inside Opinion blog, which features news bites and commentary by Paul Gullixson and Jim Sweeney. Press Democrat columnist Pete Golis also maintains a blog at pressdemocrat.com/opinion. You're invited to respond to the blog entries, editorials, columns and letters and to engage in online dialog with Gullixson, Sweeney, Golis and one another.

Who chooses the columnists who appear in the paper?

Opinion page columns, commentaries and editorials from other newspapers are selected by the editorial board.

Do columnists reflect the paper's views?

Not necessarily. Our goal is to publish voices from across the political spectrum. Regular columnists include conservatives such as George F. Will and Charles Krauthammer and liberals such as Paul Krugman and E.J. Dionne. We also publish commentaries from academics, experts and journalists.

What about the editorial cartoons?

Editorial cartoons also reflect a range of views, including such conservatives as Michael Ramirez and Lisa Benson and such liberals as Tom Toles and Jeff Danziger.

Why do you run offensive cartoons?

Our goal is not to offend but editorial cartoons are supposed to take a strong stand, often involving parody or exaggeration. Sometimes readers object, but that's also true about columns and editorials.

Where else do you publish editorial cartoons?

Collections of editorial cartoons appear at www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion. We post cartoon galleries on major news as well as week in review cartoons, many of which haven't appeared in the newspaper.

How do I contact the editorial board?

You can call Editorial Director Paul Gullixson at 521-5282 or e-mail paul.gullixson@pressdemocrat.com. You can call Editorial Writer Jim Sweeney at 521-5201 or e-mail jim.sweeney@pressdemocrat.com. Close to Home columns and letters can be sent to letters@pressdemocrat.com.