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Sun Tribune to focus op-ed locally

Layout 1 When we began tweaking the SunTribune's content and design a year ago, we stated we wanted to run regular local editorials and opinion columns.

But we also took the approach that we didn't want to jump into anything in haste (i.e., we procrastinated).

Now, we're going to add more localcommentary to our op-ed pages. As a result, we also will be dropping our primary nationally syndicated columnist, Molly Ivins. Her column will run through the Feb. 12 edition.

Probably to the chagrin of readers who disliked Ivins'; commentary, our intention isn't to appease or fallback from our overall political stance. Contrary to what Ivins' detractors in this area -- and beyond -- believe, we received as many, if not more, compliments as complaints about our decision to replace Thomas Sowell with Ivins early last year.

Likely to the dismay of those who enjoyed Ivins' writing, the decision to drop her column was a consequence of redirecting our op-ed focus. Plus, syndicated columns aren't cheap to acquire, and we felt our resources could be better spent in other areas of th eoperation than for a column that we may or may not publish each issue.

Sun Tribune publisher Sue Dieter and Hancock Record editor Katie Erdman have been writing local columns the past year, and both have been well-read and well-received. We'll continue to build on that success while still publishing commentary from area lawmakers like State Rep.Torrey Westrom and Sen. Dallas Sams, the humor of Forum of Fargo-Moorhead columnist Tammy Swift, and the views of national commentators such as Sheldon Richman and Donald Kaul, whom Sun Tribune subscribers have read regularly over the last year. Additionally, the Sun Tribune invites local writers to consider contributing to these pages, either periodically or on a regular basis (although we';re not talking about embellished letters to the editor, or continued diatribes on one or two issues. If you want to get involved in shaping the local content of these pages, contact Dieter, editor Tom Larson, or associate editor Brian Williams. And, as always, let us know -- personally or for publication -- what you think about these changes, or if you have favorit ewriters you would like us to publish. Keep in mind that, while we all would like to read the likes of Maureen Dowd or Ann Coulter on these pages,copyrights make that unlikely. Besides, what does Robert Novak know about the Morris Chamber of Commerce?