Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The New TimesDaily and Us

The twenty-five year reign of the New York Times at our local newspaper is officially at an end. Since the Shelton family has elected to dismiss some of the higher ranking TD staff, we may infer that changes are in store. Many have e-mailed me to ask what changes. To be perfectly candid, I have no idea.

I understand that the NYT did not exercise total control over the local paper; I also understand that it did exercise at least marginal control. This control will now fall into the hands of a North Alabama family. I'm sure many changes will be immediate, while those on a larger scale will be implemented over a longer period of time. The Internet is no replacement for the printed page, and I hope that each of us will give the new TD a place in our daily lives.

That being said, the Internet is the place for rapidly breaking news stories. In our area, the ShoalsInsider does a fantastic job of keeping the public informed on late breaking news and those other topics that the TD has not felt worthy of space.

Similarly, it seems many still do not understand (or want to admit to understanding) the difference between a journalistic effort like the SI and a blog such as Shoalanda Speaks. Blogs are editorial in nature and, while often reporting the news, go much farther in offering opinions on what that news means to a community.

Shoalanda currently boasts around 1,000 unique viewers a week. Anyone may e-mail us (the address is conspicuously posted to the left of this column). So far, of all our readers, only one has sent us a rebuttal statement on any issue that we have covered. We printed the entire statement on the CITY program verbatim and are happy to do the same concerning any other issue. We have also made clear in the past which blogs we are affiliated with and which we simply recommend or showcase. Anyone who claims to find that nebulous is being intentionally obtuse.

If any have doubts as to the agenda of Shoalanda Speaks, let us be as direct as possible. We support:

Local charities which aid and enrich the citizens of the Shoals

Accountability for our tax dollars and elected officials

Accountability for teachers and others who work with our children/teenagers/mentally disabled

The stern and swift punishment of those who abuse women and other innocents in our community

If these are not your goals, may I suggest that they should be. The Shoals will not change without us. Let's make our voices heard.