Supports local newspapers

Published 2:54 pm Friday, December 18, 2009

I knew that the newspapers, in general, were having trouble—losing subscriptions and advertisers, decreasing space, increasing costs, and etc.

But it didn’t occur to me that it also meant local newspapers, and not just the big guys.

It hit home when I found out that some local newspapers may be restricted on how much space they could devote to letters to the editor. This is an economic issue and not a personal one.

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These papers would like to print as much as possible so that the public would be better informed but unpaid for space is not really free, and every inch has to be paid for in some way or another.

Advertising and subscription revenues indirectly pay for this so-called free space. If this money totals $100, then they can only print $100 worth of space, and the advertisers probably don’t want to pay for somebody else’s space, so the difference has to be paid for by subscriptions.

Most papers can probably absorb the costs of one column of letters, but when it goes beyond that, there is the possibility that they start losing money. In my last letter to this paper, I encouraged everybody to write letters to the editor, not realizing what a burden this may be on the paper.

What we need is a way to help the financial burden of local papers to publish these letters. We cannot let our freedom of speech be denied because the local papers didn’t get any bailout money. (And I hope that it is never offered to them.)

Not only letters to the editor, but reports on the county commissions, city councils and school board meetings, state legislatures and departments, and local sports can be affected. I’d personally like to see the voting records of our state legislators added to this so-called free space list.

There has been a lot of talk about some businesses being too big to let them fail. I say that local newspapers are too vital for the community to let them be censored in any way—financially, philosophically or by government regulations.

So how do we help the local papers raise enough money to keep us informed of issues that are important to us?

One way is to get more people to subscribe. Another is to get more people to advertise.

And of course there is always the option the paper has of raising subscription and advertising rates. This sometimes reduces the number of subscribers and advertisers, which leaves the paper still with reduced income.

I’ve asked the question of how do we help. Maybe the question should be, do you think freedom of speech, and of the press, is important to you?

Do we need to help the local papers?

If you think we should, then contact someone at your local paper and ask them about a subscription. If you already have one, give one for Christmas. If you have a business, talk to them about an ad.

Here’s another idea. How about the county Democratic and Republican committees, regularly and equally, donate money to the local papers to help pay for so-called free space—letters, commission meetings, etc.

Can I get an Amen?

Respectfully,David BrookinsSeminole County