Careful readers of The Bee's Editorial and Opinion pages might have noticed that changes are afoot.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd of The New York Times is back dispensing her dead-eye takedowns of politicians and corporate chieftains on most Sundays.
But we've balanced the left vs. right scale by publishing more commentary from the Chicago Tribune's John Kass and the Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin.
Kass and Garvin have down-in-the-street writing voices and a flair for examining important issues from a conservative perspective. But it is their reporting that distinguishes them from many other opinion writers on the right.
Since taking over as The Bee's Editorial Page Editor, I've strived to maintain the newspaper's tradition and standard of presenting a wide spectrum of opinions -- whether it be in selecting commentaries or letters to the editor.
It doesn't matter whether the advocated position is left, right or straight down the middle. What's important is that the supporting evidence is accurate, the writing is crisp and the thoughts are original.
As editor, I've also been reminded that a picture -- or a cartoon -- can carry the power of a thousand words.
More people have told me they were canceling their subscriptions in outrage or disgust over editorial cartoons than over The Bee's editorials.
I'd like to offer a few thoughts about editorial cartoons.
Because they are cartoons, the physical features of politicians and other people portrayed are exaggerated.
Sometimes readers overlook this fact and claim that the cartoonists have ulterior motives or are racist because of how they have drawn President Barack Obama or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
This isn't the case. The cartoonists are doing their job, which is to lampoon people in high places, illustrate the absurdity of government decisions, reveal irony in political debates and take a stand.
Admittedly, I don't favor editorial cartoons that I have to ponder over to get the point. My favorites are those that trigger an immediate reaction -- especially laughter.
One of the best at stirring a strong response is Jack Ohman, who joined The Sacramento Bee this year and whose editorial cartoons appear on our pages.
Ohman was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2012, and his work is syndicated in more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. He also has illustrated 10 books.
The Fresno Bee is fortunate to have talented artist SW Parra on its staff. He had four drawings featured in the book "Best Editorial Cartoons of 2012" and the book "Pinot Envy" features 33 of his drawings.
I imagine that most everyone except Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is laughing at Parra's editorial cartoon on this page about the proposed doubling of water rates.
One thing to remember: editorial cartoons are the opinion of the artist, not The Bee's Editorial Board. Sometimes we agree with the cartoon, sometimes we don't. And if your favorite politician or your political party is skewered by a cartoonist one day, be patient. The other side will be roasted soon. This is the nature of editorial cartoons.
Finally, we are trying something new with letters to the editor. Appearing on the third Monday of each month will be the Community Conversation. We have selected the first topic (how to fix the city of Fresno's budget mess) but welcome your suggestions for future topics.
Email your thoughts on the budget to email@example.com. To be considered for publication, the letter must be 150 words or less and we must receive it by Thursday.
The first Community Conversation will appear March 18.
Bill McEwen is The Bees Editorial Page Editor. He can be reached at (559) 441-6632, firstname.lastname@example.org
. or @fresnomac on Twitter.