From the Henderson Daily Dispatch In neighboring North CarolinaDecember 29, 2005 - Author: newscoma - Comments are closed
Threatening paper’s customers is the wrong option
The public often believes it is completely acceptable to beat up this newspaper for printing news.
It is part of the idea of taking it out on the messenger and not dealing with the message itself.
We are grown ups and can handle it when people do not like us. Likewise, we are equally capable of surviving the occasional angry threat that customers will stop their advertising or cancel their paper because of something we have published or intend to print.
People who attempt to use threats in hopes that we will do our job to their liking are going to walk away more disappointed than ever.
We come to this discussion because of news that a Tennessee congressman chose to go a step beyond threatening his local newspaper; he took his fight with the paper to its customers and threatened them.
This is more than a step too far, it borders on extortion.
Sen. Jeff Miller was angered that the Bradley News Weekly was publishing information about his divorce and the fact that he is dating another woman, while separated from his wife. He wrote letters to the paper’s advertisers in which he said that he would be “watching in the next several weeks to identify and remember those in the community that wish to subsidize the destructive nature of this type of publication in our community.”
Miller, just as any reader, is welcome to disagree with what a newspaper publishes, but threatening its customers is going too far.
The newspaper wrote about his marital status because Miller ran for office on a family-values platform as a man who believes in the sanctity of marriage. Miller, obviously, disagrees with the newspaper following the story and, we think, does seem to have some issues with the sanctity of marriage.
The response, thus far, to the letters has been new and perhaps additional advertising because the businesses did not like the threatening tone of the letter.
If Miller is unhappy with the newspaper he could always cancel his subscription. They likely would survive without him more easily than he will without their coverage.
The advertisers, too, are capable of ending their association with the paper if they are unhappy. They likely will find it easier to stay in business by advertising what they have to offer, but the choice should be theirs to make, not their senator’s.
Kudos to the newspaper for sticking to its news judgement and to the advertisers for not bowing to Miller’s pressure.
I couldn’t agree more …
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