May 15, 2012 > Letter to the Editor: Disappointed in Tri-City Voice
Letter to the Editor: Disappointed in Tri-City Voice
As an admirer of the Tri-City Voice and its efforts to fill the void of local news created by the consolidation of area newspapers and the virtual abdication of local news coverage, I was disappointed by something I read in your newspaper.
You recently solicited your readers to support your paper in its court case with the Alameda Newspaper Group over your efforts to be designated a "newspaper of general circulation." Such a designation makes the paper eligible to publish legally mandated notices such as proposed zoning amendments, fictitious business statements, property foreclosures and a host of other notices. Being eligible to publish these notices in your circulation area, which are now published by the ANG newspaper, could make a very big difference in your profitability. You failed to disclose this as the reason such a designation is important to you.
This requirement made sense at one time as a way to make sure the public was informed of pending legislation and government action. Today this purpose could be achieved better by using the Internet for publishing these notices at virtually no cost to government or others who are required to publish notices. Requiring this expensive and unnecessary publication constitutes a subsidy of a private business, something I would expect your newspaper to vigorously oppose editorially were it to apply to a different business.
Your lack of transparency in this solicitation of your readers indicates to me a disconnect between your high-minded editorial positions and your actual business practices. I can only hope that this was a rare lapse in an otherwise fair and ethical news operation.
In response to your disappointment in Tri-City Voice (TCV), there are several matters that should be clarified. The reason for a vigorous - and costly - attack launched by Bay Area News Group (BANG) on a matter of legal standing for TCV should be examined. Such a declaration does not affect the status of any BANG newspaper and there is no restriction of how many newspapers can be awarded that status in a given area. Contrary to your statements, Tri-City Voice has been very clear in any discussions with those interested in this court battle that it revolves around substantial income derived from legal notices published in Newspapers of General Circulation.
TCV, an independently owned newspaper, has endeavored to pour its limited resources into maintaining a quality, locally-oriented newspaper. Can the same be said for our court adversary? TCV does not have the resources of a huge publishing empire (Digital First/MediaNews) and is subject to difficult economic forces that all small, local businesses are facing at this time. To suggest that TCV should not aspire to profitability is an interesting argument. Most businesses and their employees would deem such a statement unfair and certainly not reasonable in this country that purports to support private enterprise.
It is surprising and disappointing that you feel TCV has been inaccurate in representing the nature of this legal contest. Obstruction to a declaration of Newspaper of General Circulation status by BANG is a blatant effort to retain a monopoly, continuing to reap the rewards of a lucrative area of publishing without competition. Legal manipulation to deter, delay and confuse the issue has been a serious impediment to the viability of Tri-City Voice and its efforts to represent the local area. Fortunately, most of our readers appear to agree that loss of this "voice" in the community would be a major problem.
Currently, there is a vigorous and healthy debate currently over your suggestion of simply printing legal notices on the internet. Although your letter says such a system would be instituted and maintained "at virtually no cost to government or others who are required to publish notices," that supposes that internet sites appear and are maintained at virtually no cost and printed newspapers have little value for dissemination of information. I disagree and wonder how many of our readers would prefer that TCV suspend printing and publish solely on the internet. That day may come, but I doubt it is here at this time. There are many equally valid arguments on both sides of this issue. From inception, all content of TCV has been available at our website: www.tricityvoice.com.
Douglas, although there are many other discussions we might have that could require an apology for a "lapse," this isn't one of them.
Publisher/Editor in Chief
Tri-City Voice Newspaper