adallascolumn“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Thomas Jefferson

The 2016 national elections. Well, that was a lot of fun, yeah?

And while it is not outside of the scope of The Independent to put forth commentary on national stories, the focal point here is primarily issues concerning Southern Utah. You’ll hear me say it often and with increased emphasis, that it is the responsibility of the citizen to be as informed as possible, as engaged as possible and to think nationally, but act locally.

As of this month, I will be returning to the post of Indy Opinion Editor, and I wanted to give a proverbial tip of the hat to Jason Gottfried for managing the position for the last year or so with impeccable style, class, and professionalism.

It seems traditional as a year draws to a close to reflect upon the passing year while at the same time looking forward to the next. I am rolling into my sixth year here, and the Indy itself embarks proudly on its twenty-first.

Our publisher and owner Josh Warburton, along with the editorial staff, have been taking a cue from the two-decade benchmark to craft a succinct mission statement that encompasses what we seek to do as we execute our role in our community both in print and online.

And given we are nearing the end of the year, I thought I would take the opportunity to give a brief overview of my mission for the opinion section of the Indy which is in part adopted from my own as a writer.

In short, it is to engage our community in thought-provoking dialogue and to encourage them to participate. With that said, it should be noted that this engagement will take on different tones and levels of involvement, depending on the writer and the subject.

We take the First Amendment and the notion that the fourth estate is crucial to maintaining our republic seriously here. We invite and welcome all input and are ever on the lookout for writers willing to commit to the process.

While it is understood that independent publications traditionally tend to lean counter to the mainstream of anything, we understand not only the necessity of contrarianism but also see the value in traditional ideologies and their contribution to the conversation.

While there is no guarantee of who or what will be contributed here, be assured that all contributions are welcome.

You’ll hear me say of my own column that it is my expressed intent to incite rigorous dialogue on matters of consequence. For my own part, my observation is that civil discourse has found itself in decline if not decay, and I would like to take part in doing something about that.

A good opinion piece does three things. First, it takes an informed position on a subject or issue. Second, it makes its argument for or against, taking opposing views and challenging the premises of them. And third, it very often makes a call to action.

This formula, while not set in stone, can be applied to almost any topic. Political commentary, while a staple of the journalism here at the Indy, is not the only thing that should be found in the opinion section here, and we are inviting writers to contribute.

Contact me at dallas@suindependent.com if you would like to know more about getting involved.

“A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom, a press will never be anything but bad.” -Albert Camus

Happy Holidays everyone.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.