EDITOR: My wife and I have subscribed to The Press Democrat for many years. We chose the PD because of the editorial policy and contributors: a nice mixture of national, international and local news, vastly enriched by the contributions (both news and opinion) from the New York Times and Washington Post.
Watching carefully, I have not yet seen a big change in the paper since Halifax took over. However, I worry about what the future holds. ... Can you enlighten my wife and me concerning the direction of the paper?
CHARLES S. LITTLE
Dear Mr. Little,
Thank you for your note. It's this kind of encouragement that keeps us committed to doing what we do every day.
I understand your concern about the change in ownership. It seems to me that we may have left you and other readers hanging about what has been occurring internally at The Press Democrat.
First, let me assure you that we are all still here, and the changes, for the most part, have been minimal.
Here's what has transpired so far: Halifax Media Holdings LLC completed the $143 million deal to buy The Press Democrat and 15 other regional newspapers from the New York Times Co. on Jan. 6. Michael Redding, CEO of Halifax, followed up with a visit here on Jan. 16 during which he held a town hall-style meeting with all employees. In short, he assured us that the company was committed to community newspapers and had no plans to sell us. Moreover, he said he believed in leaving the decisions concerning news and editorials to the publishers and editors at the local level.
Since then, it's been a time of transition, filling out paperwork as we shift to new insurance plans, set up new flex spending accounts, adapt to new procedures, etc. In many ways, we're all starting anew, but, thankfully, we're not starting from scratch. Not everything has been perfect. But all things considered, the changes so far have been far less significant than some had feared.
But to get to the heart of your question, the reason you have not seen a big change in our newspaper is because there hasn't been one.
We've received no directives about a change in editorial policy, and I don't expect to get one anytime soon. I can't speak for the newsroom, but I'm certain that there's been no mandate concerning news coverage, either.
I recognize that has not stopped some in the community from interpreting things they see in the newspaper — usually content they dislike — as a direct result of the change in the ownership. But they're wrong.
It's also nothing new. Before this, some readers could only see our pages through the prism of our ownership by the New York Times. Nothing I said could persuade them that our editorial positions and our selection of columnists were not directed by someone in Midtown Manhattan.
The long and short of it is, it has been business as usual for us. That means we're continuing to write and publish content that some people like and some don't. It's the nature of what we do.
As for the editorial and opinion pages, we remain committed to creating a forum for the community to discuss the news of the day and to read perspectives from other parts of the nation and world. To that end, I see no change ahead in the mix of columnists — including those from the New York Times and the Washington Post — that we offer.