The newspaper needs to find columnists who can provide a strong local connection. Find somebody who can write authoritatively about Joplin sports, whether it be a man or a woman. Find somebody who can write everyday or at least two or three times a week, about stories that concern the Joplin area. Signature columnists build a strong local identity for a newspaper and build readership.
Mike O'Brien and Sarah Overstreet -- great writers, both -- ought to take a break and recharge. Linda Leicht is soft, so soft. And Brian Lewis wastes perfectly good Sunday space. Out of all of 'em, Michael Brothers is the only vibrant local voice in the pages of the News-Leader.