We have iPod Touches just lying around in unopened boxes.

When we equipped our staff with new Macs, Apple threw in a bunch of free iPods. We’ve been talking about how we could put them to good use. And we think we have an answer.

California Watch is announcing a debate championship and you could win a free iPod Touch.

Over each of the next six months, our staff will select the best comments entered on our site during the previous calendar month in response to stories, blog posts, data and other content we publish.

The selected comments will be entered into a drawing – and one lucky winner will be chosen each month. Comments posted in the month of March will be eligible for a drawing held the first week in April. Same goes for April, May, June and so on.

You don’t have to agree with our content to be eligible. You just have to be thoughtful, focused and articulate in making your argument. Comments will be judged also on clarity of thinking and persuasiveness. And we could be swayed by clever humor. The judging is totally subjective. But we all know a good comment when we see one. Oh, and you can’t be related to any of us to win – or have worked or interned here during the past five years.

Once your e-mail address gets entered into our shoebox, fishbowl or whatever we end up using, we’ll draw out a single winner. Since we no longer allow any anonymous commenting, we’ll notify the winner based on the e-mail address given to us when they registered. If it bounces back, or we don’t hear from the winner within 72 hours, we’ll draw another name.

The more terrific comments you post during a month, the more chances you’ll have of being nominated for the drawing.

Good luck.

California Watch is a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting and is now the largest investigative reporting team operating in the state. Visit the Web site at www.californiawatch.org for in-depth coverage of K-12 schools, higher education, money and politics, health and welfare, public safety and the environment.