Difficult issues require serious debate

A few individuals wrote to me this week threatening to cancel their subscriptions because we had an advertisement in the newspaper opposing Planned Parenthood. One writer said she did not want this kind of “political propaganda” in her local newspaper.
There are a couple of serious issues here.
First, advertisements are what pay for the newspaper. Subscription revenue would never be enough to pay for the cost of publishing a newspaper. So, the economic reality is without advertising revenue the price of the newspaper would be prohibitively high.
Second, paid subscribers are what drive advertising rates. The more paid subscribers the more advertisers are willing to pay for their advertising. In other words, the more that advertisers are willing to pay for an ad the lower the subscription rate.
It’s a symbiotic relationship that is somewhat akin to dancing with a cobra.
Third, newspapers are not vouching for an advertiser when they run an ad. It is up to the consumer to decide if the advertisers message is true or “propaganda.”
Finally, it is important to recognize that our founding fathers recognized the importance a free and unfettered press. It is a core American principle that our democracy cannot be sustained without an open and sometimes difficult exchange of conflicting ideas.
Even as the publisher of a small local newspaper, I take the challenge of being a forum for public discourse seriously. Many of my local critics have challenged me over the years because of my clearly conservative views.
That said, I have never denied those with a more liberal or progressive point of view their opportunity to express their contrary viewpoint. In the early days, I often took the opportunity to respond to letters submitted by readers thinking that might add to the debate. I soon found out, however, that most letter writers did not want a debate. They simply want to register their opinion on an issue.
The bottom line here is that the “anti-Planned Parenthood” group was willing to pay for the opportunity to express their opinion. The “pro-Planned Parenthood” folks have the same opportunity.
This newspaper does not endorse either view. What we do believe is issues of a public nature require a forum for open expression. Historically this forum has been our free press. You might not always like what you read in the pages of your local newspaper but real democracy requires all citizens to keep informed of the issues confronting us.
Our country is clearly at a crossroads. Making the choice of which way our country should go requires open and honest discussion of the differences that keep us apart. Choosing to ignore those we disagree with because their opinion offends us is not going to insure we ultimately choose the right road.

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