Opening up the Observer

I find myself on a lot of unofficial e-mail lists. Like the one that circulates around my neighborhood sharing information about break-ins and other crimes that arrive in occasional dispiriting spurts. Or the list of concerned parents weighing in on proposed changes in the way the middle schools are scheduled. Or the list of ideas for preserving 140 acres of green space that started soon after Oakwood Country Club went under.

Some of these lists are small—15 or 20 people. Others consist of a close circle of people who are likely to share similar viewpoints, because what’s more gratifying than a one-sided debate?

There is nothing wrong with discussions like this. They’re the same discussions that have forever taken place over backyard fences, front porches or sidewalks. But like those low-tech conversations, today’s digital klatches strike me as more talk than action.

When I receive such an e-mail, I can’t help thinking it would do more good if the sender also posted it in a public place, where others, who might value the information, could find it, learn from it and discuss it.

Good news! That forum exists. It’s an electronic bulletin board attached to the Heights Observer website at Anyone may register to use it. Anonymous postings are not allowed, ensuring a level of accountability and, dare I say it, sanity that you won’t find on busier bulletin boards.

I’ll admit the forum is not built on a very sophisticated software platform at this time, and traffic there tends to be somewhat sleepy. Even so, a couple thousand people visit the forum each month. So the next time you have information so important that it cries out to be shared, send it to your usual list. But don’t stop there; share it with the rest of us, too.

Bob Rosenbaum, chairman of the newspaper’s Editorial Advisory Committee and member of the FutureHeights board, writes this monthly column to provide transparency and understanding about the Observer. Send your comments and questions to

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 11:35 PM, 05.24.2010