Below is letter from Eric Dundon, content manager at the Lake Sun Leader. It is in response to ‘The Paywall Argument’. In it, Mr. Dundon provides us information regarding the new web platform. With his permission, it is reprinted here.
You will also find the follow up and ongoing correspondence below. It is regarding the decision of the Lake Sun Leader to publish ‘The Paywall Argument’, or not.
If you would like to see ‘The Paywall Argument’ appear in the Lake Sun, please let Eric Dundon and Joyce Miller know. (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com).
This post will be updated as this decision is considered. Leave a comment here as well, if you would like to see ‘The Paywall Argument’ run in the Lake Sun.
Thanks for your support.
On Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 1:35 PM, Eric Dundon <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hi Mr. Ellison,
Thanks for your email. I can’t help but be reminded of a somewhat similar conversation with Deanna earlier this year. In it, I told her that my criticisms are a reflection of your value, the Lake Sun’s value, to us. As community members, we have an expectation of truth when possible, honesty when not. We expect you to ask real questions, hard questions. We have high expectations.
The lofty standards we expect met served as motivation for many who enter the field of journalism. We expect integrity. We expect truth. We expect you to inform us, to investigate.
When that baseline criteria is subject, as they now are, to advertisers and corporate ownership, we all suffer.
I understand full well that you and the other members of the Lake Sun staff are only doing your jobs. You keep us well informed of local issues. The Lake Sun and the work you do are the lifeline we rely on. We all know that the public is starting to tune out. While much of that has to do with cable and national network ‘news organizations’ and non-stop talk of all things political, it eventually comes home.
We hold our newspapers in high regard because you live here with us. You pay the same price at the pump or for a gallon of milk. You are vanguards of the public trust. We need you now. We don’t just need you to cover the Camden County Commissioner race. While that is important, it is also worth a few extra column inches to report on stories that bring a little perspective, a little understanding, to the fore. The people need that. When they hear it, they respond.
The Lake Sun is not my enemy. It is a never-ending well of hope.
With your permission, I would like to post your kind letter on my blog. It is informative regarding the new site.
Thanks again for all you do.
Oh, and I did send a copy of The Paywall Argument as a letter to the editor. I hope to see it soon.
You may print my email to you on your blog.
I appreciate being kept in the loop. I understand Joyce’s hesitation. It isn’t always easy to do the right thing. Unfortunately, it underlines the effects of corporate ownership on the editorial process in our own newspapers. As I said before, we are all just doing our jobs. I can appreciate Joyce’s consideration about running the piece. We all know the truth, we all know it should be told.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for ownership. I didn’t create the issue. Neither did you. Neither did she. Yet the responsibility for containment, from Gatehouse’s perspective, falls to Joyce.
To adequately explain your sudden move to a paywall without the context of Gatehouse’s debt and profit motive, is impossible. Attempts to do so are hollow and disingenuous. The truth is, this decision to make the move to a pay-per-content site wasn’t yours. It was theirs. It was driven by the bottom line.
I understand Joyce’s dilemma. It isn’t easy to stand up and do the right thing. It isn’t easy, in an environment that is growing more and more hostile toward the media, to have the courage to print truth. It takes fortitude to do your jobs. It takes character to print criticism. It takes strength to stand behind that decision.
I believe that she, as Editor of the Lake Sun Leader, will make the right decision. I have faith that she will allow the community to understand the paper’s decision to move to a paywall.
Again, I thank you for keeping me informed.