Monday, December 12, 2005

The Perils of Publishing (small-town, community newspaper division)

You need a scorecard sometimes.

At least in Freeport you do.

For instance, there's a Citizens For Freeport commmittee. And there's a Real Citizens For Freeport committee.

Who do ya trust?

If you're an average citizen, you look to your local paper for guidance. But sometimes even the local community newspaper gets hoodwinked. Yes, hoodwinked, I say!

During the last election, the citizenry was asked whether it wanted to abolish the town's Economic Development Commission, the organization behind the city's eminent domain land-grab of harborfront property for a proposed fancy yacht club.

The EDC survived the vote, barely.

Democracy is a lovely thing for community newspapers cause candidates and special interest groups pay for big, full-page advertisements.

Such was the case for The Sentinel, the giveaway weekly based in Freeport, which needs the ad revenue. They even appreciate it when local readers pitch in to help distribute the paper, one of the headaches of newsprint publications that have no Web presence.

So when Freeport Mayor Jim Phillips was driving around town distributing big bundles of The Sentinel, newspaper publisher Wendi Ross felt compelled to put Hizzoner's picture in the paper.

Good publicity for the paper, one supposes, showing the town that The Sentinel is so essential that even THE MAYOR will put in some free sweat equity to distribute the publication.

What the mayor didn't tell The Sentinel publisher when he picked up the papers was that his friends and allies then inserted an additonal advertising flyer into the newspaper that spoke in favor of keeping the pro-eminent-domain Economic Development Commission.

Dirty pool? Maybe.

But not necessarily illegal. Apparently.

[local clute paper]

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