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A change that starts today


I know, I know -- this isn’t the face you’re used to seeing in this

space, and this isn’t the name that usually appears here.

But I thought it was important to take the corner usually occupied


by Will Rogers’ “As If You Asked” column to explain to our readers,

at least partly, why “As If You Asked” won’t be coming back.

The Leader and Rogers -- who has been a freelance columnist for

the Leader and/or its sister paper, the News-Press, for more than a


decade -- have parted company. The reasons are myriad, and I won’t go

into them here in too much detail. I’ll use the usual cliches -- we

were going in different directions, there were differences in

philosophy and approach, blah, blah -- which probably will sound as

lame as they always do when someone uses them to describe a

professional breakup.

Nevertheless, they’re true.

There’ll be a lot to miss about “As If You Asked,” which, thanks


to computer design requirements that demanded a name for all our

columns, actually has been called that only for the past nine months

or so. (Before that, the column was labeled simply “Will Rogers.”)

Over the years, the column kept Leader and News-Press readers abreast

of all kinds of city government, school and community goings-on,

often sharing information gathered off the record and attributed to

“insiders” or “those in the know.”

That approach frequently had its share of detractors, particularly


those about whom the column hit the nail on the head -- or missed the

mark by enough of a margin that it left them scratching their heads,

or worse. Either way, it often was lively reading, and did its fair

share of keeping local people of prominence on their toes.

We believe that the space and resources used for the column now

can be employed to a slightly different, but equally valuable, end.

As the Leader and News-Press continue to hew to Times Community News’

mission -- paper of record, community forum, community builder,

community watchdog -- we want to emphasize the importance of the word

that keeps coming up in that mission: community.

The Leader and News-Press are about the names and faces that weave

their way through the fabric of our community, about those who are

making a difference in all walks of life. They are not just

“insiders” or those “in the know.” They are your friends and

neighbors, your children’s teachers, the guy who cuts hair, the cop

at the airport. They are people who need to be identified,

acknowledged for their deeds and written about, so that you learn

more about them.

That’s not to say we don’t take the watchdog part of our mission

seriously. We do, and when someone or several someones charged with a

public trust violates that trust, we will go after them. Hard. That

means names, dates, places, actions -- all on the record. Helping

keep our local officials honest defines a “community” newspaper as

much as anything does.

But we think a change is in order about how we do some of that.

And the change starts today.

* JEFF KEATING is the editor of the Leader and its sister paper,

the News-Press. Reach him at 637-3234 or by e-mail at