How to make your voice heard and support that ability for others
Almost every day, someone mentions to me how much he or she appreciates the Heights Observer as a positive force in the community.
On the days when that doesn’t happen, someone is sure to contact me about an idea they’d like the Observer to pursue on behalf of the community.
For those who like what the Observer does, I remind them that it is operated by FutureHeights, a nonprofit organization dedicated to citizen engagement in Cleveland Heights and University Heights.
While the Observer generates most of its own operating funding through advertising sales, it still requires support from FutureHeights.
This month, FutureHeights is conducting its annual fund drive in the third consecutive year of an extremely difficult fund-raising environment. You can help the Observer to continue its work by making a tax-deductible contribution to FutureHeights. I’ve already made mine and hope you’ll consider doing so as well. Here’s a link where you can contribute securely online: http://futureheights.org/Donate.
For those who have a story or agenda for the Observer to pursue, I always explain that the Observer is different from other media, which carefully manage the content they produce.
In any given month, approximately 75 people are directly involved in the Observer project. But there's a core group of perhaps 25 who are involved every month—editing articles, selling ads, updating the website, laying out the newspaper and then distributing it. Almost all of us are volunteers, myself included.
I encourage people to think of the Observer as a public soapbox. That core group of people, who continually give their time and effort, is, in essence, working to assure the soapbox is available for anyone who wants to use it—and that’s about all we have time to do.
The other people who contribute articles and opinion pieces are using the soapbox. Some use it to announce community events; others use it to vent frustration; others sill use it to interpret the results of journalistic reporting. All have chosen to make their voices heard about things that are important to them. They do not need to seek permission in advance from anyone at the Observer; they are exercising their rights and responsibilities as members of the community.
So, if you have an idea or an issue that you think the community needs to discuss, you don’t need to ask us if it's OK. I’m happy to provide people with thoughts on how to go about getting the information they want to publish. But whatever you want to address about life in this community, understand that the Observer exists to make your voice heard.
To express your opinion privately, e-mail Bob Rosenbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org. To express your opinion as a letter to the editor, register at the Observer Member Center (http://heightsobserver.org/members) and click on “Submit New Story” to contribute your letter.
Rosenbaum, chairman of the Observer's editorial advisory committee and FutureHeights board member, writes this column to provide transparency and understanding about the newspaper.