Friday, June 17, 1998
A True Voice of the Town
by Penny Zezima
Ever wonder just what the story is with the column that sits in the upper right hand corner of this page, week after week? Since before the merger of the Carlisle Gazette and The Mosquito in 1983, the Forum has been an institution in Carlisle, a column whose mission has been simple—giving voice to the diverse points of view in this town. Composed of no fewer than five writers (the current staff has thirteen writers), the Forum is an independent entity. It has its own editor (Ned Bennett) and its own liaison to the board of directors of Carlisle Communications, Inc. (Marilyn Harte). The Carlisle Mosquito editors have no say in its subject matter, unless there is a question of libel or slander. Its members are chosen in the spring by the CCI board, with an eye to creating a group that is diverse in gender, age, politics, and beliefs. Very few restraints are placed on the writers, who write an average of four columns a year; they are only asked to refrain from writing about any committees they may work on, to try to avoid writing about the same issue over and over, and they are encouraged to write about topics that are pertinent to Carlisle. Every December, on a rotating basis, a member of the local clergy is invited to contribute a Forum piece.
Some of our best Forum writers over the years have been suggested based on cogent letters they have submitted to the paper; other names have been generated because of Town Meeting speeches or discussions at the paper's open editorial review meeting in April. The CCI board looks for two things in a Forum writer: a talent for writing and the willingness to put personal opinion out there for all the town to see. Judging by recent letters to the editor, the Forum seems to be still accomplishing its task after all these years—making us think about issues and, even more importantly, discuss them.