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Peter Jensen
I've always been drawn to editorials that challenge conventional beliefs. It's easy to be against taxes, trial lawyers or rabid dogs. It's much harder to convince an audience (be it a group of senior citizens or a class of 6-year-olds) that a dose of strong but perhaps unpleasant medicine is in order. As such, I'll admit to this pronounced bias: As a famous journalist once concluded, it's a newspaper's job to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Most of my two decades at this newspaper have been spent as a reporter covering a range of beats from the Eastern Shore and the state legislature to family and parenting issues. Since December 2003, I've been an editorial writer focusing on state politics and government, Baltimore County, transportation, the environment and issues affecting the more rural parts of the state.

As someone born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Montgomery County, I like to think I can see matters from a variety of perspectives -- Washingtonian and Baltimorean, urbanite and rural dweller, fan of both the Ravens and Redskins (although this last one tends to get me in trouble with my colleagues). Still, if ever I presume to have the world figured out, my wife and two children are always there to afflict me, too.

Mike Cross-Barnet
The biggest part of my job as deputy opinion editor is editing the Commentary page (also known as the op-ed page) and our online-only commentaries. This means I have to be a bit of an expert in just about everything. It's what makes this job fun, and it can also be a big challenge. When I open my e-mail inbox in the morning, I might find a note from a former ambassador offering a new idea to end the war in Iraq, or perhaps an article by a homemaker with a plan to ease school overcrowding in the suburbs, or a community worker's riveting tale of desperation and hope on Baltimore's mean streets. I strive to make sense of it all, presenting our readers with the most intriguing proposals, best arguments and most compelling stories I can find.

But running the op-ed page is just one piece of the puzzle. I also oversee the entire opinion section when the head of the department is away. As a member of the editorial board, I help shape the opinions of the paper each day, and I occasionally write editorials too. I edit and write for the department's Second Opinion blog, and I also assist with production duties such as copy editing and page layout.

A native of New York City, I joined The Baltimore Sun in 2004 after working at the Los Angeles Times for five years. In my 20-year career in journalism, I've also been a copy editor, a reporter and the editor of a small daily newspaper. I live in Baltimore with my wife, a sociologist, and our three children, two dogs, three cats and one hamster.

Glenn McNatt
My father was in politics as a town councilman in New Jersey during the 1960s, so I grew up hearing my parents and their friends talk about the issues of the day. After college, I got a job on our local newspaper and, in one form or another, I've basically been writing about many of the same issues ever since.

There are always two sides to every question, and I've always felt that readers deserve to hear both before making up their minds, even if you truly can't stand what the other side is saying. When I was in high school, for example, our civics class divided into two groups one year to debate whether Congress should pass the 1965 Civil Rights bill, and I remember feeling terribly betrayed when some students who I thought of as friends volunteered to argue against the measure. Yet the debate compelled me to summon my strongest, most reasoned arguments, and my friends on the other side had to do the same. In the spirited give-and-take we all felt we'd gotten a little closer to the truth by the time it was over. That's what a lively editorial page can contribute to a community, and why opinions matter even if you don't agree with them all the time.

I started writing editorials at The Sun in 1985, after having worked for various newspapers and magazines. From 1995 to 2008 I was the paper's arts columnist and art critic, and I returned to editorials last year and have been writing about education, infant mortality, the law, cultural issues and Barack Obama. So in one form or another, my career at The Sun has been devoted to opinion writing. It's helped me understand the world we live in a little better, and I hope it's helped our readers, too — even those who disagree with my side of the argument.

Nancy Johnston
As a fifth-grader in Princess Anne, I learned that a New Jersey waste company wanted to come to town and deposit their trash in our landfill. Outraged, I insisted that my mother drive me to my first interview, with the vice president of the company; then to the City Council meeting, where I spoke against the proposal.

Shortly after, I decided I wanted to be a member of The Sun editorial board. That, or Indiana Jones. But that didn't work out.

So my journalism career began. I've since been an intern reporter at The (Salisbury) Daily Times, a copy editor at The Carroll County Times, a designer and editor at The Examiner newspapers and finally, beginning in 2006, a copy editor and book blogger for The Baltimore Sun.

I've always viewed The Sun as a platform for the entire Maryland community to come together and discuss the important issues we live with, talk about and vote on every day. Such service is an inspiring goal, and one that we can never achieve without a healthy dialogue between the public and those who are tasked to work with and for them.

So in the end, I believe The Sun's editorial pages are less about what we have to say, and more about what you think. I hope you'll join our conversation.

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