A newspaper does a lot of talking. It's filled with stories ranging from how to grow shade trees to the latest murder. It issues opinions on myriad topics in editorials and columns.

So what if you want to talk back? What if you're mad and you "ain't gonna take it any more," and you want to express your opinion?The newspaper may appear to be a big, complicated institution, hard to deal with. It might seem intimidating to try to break through the layers of bureaucracy and get to the right person.

But it's really not difficult. You can call, write or visit our offices in person. Reporters and editors work odd hours, but it's fairly easy to communicate with us. Our office phone numbers are printed every day in the mailer, found in the first few pages of the newspaper.

If you have a complaint or want to comment on a story, the best course is to talk with the reporter who wrote the story. Reporters are responsible for their work. We stress accuracy and balance. If they've made a mistake it's certainly fair to tell them. We're willing to run corrections or clarifications if we didn't get something quite right.

If you have a disagreement with a reporter on whether a mistake has been made, an editor will mediate.

We also have a reader representative or ombudsman. His name is Jay Livingood and he'll help you work through our bureaucracy. You're also welcome to call me. And if you feel you must go right to the top, my boss, Jim Mortimer (our editor and publisher), is also accessible.

We do return phone calls. We do answer letters. We believe in good customer service. We're reasonable people who want to serve the community.

It is inevitable, of course, that in the course of covering the news some people will be offended and hurt and angry.

Some people, especially criminals, don't like their names in the paper. And sometimes innocent bystanders are caught up in a news event and find they must endure unwanted publicity.

We are sensitive to these problems, although we can't avoid them all. We certainly will listen to your call, your complaints and your suggestions. You can talk back to your newspaper.