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Column: These pages aren't only way to share your voice

The newspaper's opinion page is filled every week with voices.

Some are critical of city government. Some voices salute change. Others attempt to provoke. That's what opinion pages are for - an exchange of ideas that we hope enlightens discussion and fosters critical thinking.

The only problem is the limitation of newspaper pages. A newspaper is linear media, in that there's only so much room for words.

That's not the case online.

Here, at, there's a whole other galaxy for voices. We call it Areavoices. You've seen the icon - it's the little green-and-white quotation box beneath stories that reads "talk about this topic."

By clicking on that icon, you're taken to a discussion platform where you're free to weigh in on the story. It's quite easy; just log in and write away. After you've commented, your post goes live and is recorded in a separate item on our homepage indicating how many readers have weighed in.

Right now that list is awful sparse. We recognize the process might seem a little intimidating to some readers and suspect there's been some hesitation to take the steps to register.

Believe me, it's quick and painless. Within seconds, new users have access to the comment platform. Returning users have instant access. And then the fun begins - the interaction with other voices.

If you're really up for an adventure, you can use the Areavoices portal to build your own blog - another easy process. Let me know if you do. We just might want to feature it on our homepage, where thousands of eyes will see your work every day.

Meanwhile, we're hard at work behind the scenes to make's user experience more practical, not just for online comments, but regular navigation of the homepage. Before long, we expect you'll find the site even more user-friendly, where things like exclusive videos and photo galleries will be located right where you want them.

Some of those changes are under way. You'll notice more over time.

In the meantime, there's always room at for your voice. Share yours now. We'll be happy to have you.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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