Yes, it's me again -- the guy in the picture with the cowboy hat.
Usually, you see that face staring back at you from one of my "It's a Doug's Life" columns elsewhere on this website. Let me assure you I don't wear that hat much around town; it's just part of the "cowboy wannabe" persona I have adopted since my move to Menifee a year ago.
Sure, I like to have fun with my column, writing about hot air balloon rides, Bingo nights and tarantulas in my front yard. But as you've seen, I can be serious when I feel the need to.
This is one of those times.
For those who haven't heard, I recently was named Editor of Menifee 24/7. As such, I am committed to complete, fair and accurate coverage of the events in town. My mission, developed over 35 years as a professional journalist, is to present the news objectively in a timely manner, with the opportunity for appropriate discussion in the blog format we provide.
In order for me to do that, I ask that you put aside any preconceived notions and judge this publication on what you see here. I also ask that you understand a little about how we work.
Menifee 24/7 serves the community in many ways. Because we don't spend money on printing costs, we are able to provide you all our information free of charge, all the time. This does create challenges, however. Because we are a blog with a continuous news feed as well as static elements for advertising, you will see hard news, features, business promotions and standard ads all on the home page.
We do offer specialized sections, such as information on local parks, restaurants, the arts community and columns. You can access these areas through the tabs at the top of the site. But the page most often viewed, obviously, is the home page. That gives you a little bit of everything.
Therefore, you may see an update on a local fire one time during the day and an advertorial promoting a local business at another. As it is with most publications, advertising allows us to pay expenses and stay in business. The mix of news and advertising may simply look somewhat different to those of you who haven't had much experience with "hyperlocal blogging," as it is often referred to in the industry.
At this time of year, with elections coming up, you will see a certain number of "paid political message" advertorials. Although some election coverage runs as hard news because of its news value to all, we do allow candidates to purchase additional space to promote their campaign -- as many publications do. Every candidate has been offered the opportunity to purchase this space. Not all have chosen to do so.
This should not be taken as bias on our part. Nor should it be considered bias if an opinion is expressed in a column. We give you the same opportunity in the comments section of each posting. Again, however, I would urge you to avoid personal attacks against named individuals -- especially if you are posting anonymously. I oppose this for the same reason I wrote a column opposing what I consider to be hateful public comments at city council meetings. I respect the right of all individuals to express their opinion, but it should be done in appropriate ways, with respect for the public meeting process.
If you are not satisfied with a city council member, your opportunity to help bring about change is coming up on Nov. 6. Your voice can best be heard through your vote. For this reason, I urge all candidates and all concerned citizens to attend the candidates forum this Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Paloma Valley High School.
This forum, sponsored by Menifee 24/7, will be held in the school auditorium, which seats 250 people. We will use a multi-microphone sound system and the event will be videotaped by a professional videographer. Every attempt will be made to present a forum in which Menifee voters can hear all candidates speak on issues of importance to them.
For this reason, I have been asking for readers to email me questions they would like asked of the candidates. No questions will be accepted from the audience that night. If you have a question you'd like the moderator to pose to one or all of the candidates, please email it to email@example.com today. This will allow us sufficient time to carefully consider each question and make sure all are appropriate to ask in a public setting.
If you are able to attend Wednesday night, I strongly urge you to do so. This is an important time in the history of Menifee. All residents should be informed about key issues before the election. If you are not a registered voter in Riverside County, I urge you to register now. It's a simple process that can be done online at www.voteinfo.net. The deadline to register is Oct. 22.
If you fail to register to vote and don't attend the Wednesday night forum, you have only yourself to blame if you don't like the outcome of the election. Make your voice heard with your vote. And in preparation for that, come hear from the candidates Wednesday night. You owe it to yourself and your community to get involved.
I hope to see you Wednesday night and hear from you via email with your questions for the candidates. Feel free to contact me with any concerns you have at firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a comment on this post.