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‘I’m not going to help you put the Press & Journal out of business’: Letter to the Editor

Posted 11/14/18

Editor’s note: The following open letter to Middletown Borough Council was published in the Nov. 8 edition of The Sun newspaper and is being reprinted here with permission.

Dear council …

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‘I’m not going to help you put the Press & Journal out of business’: Letter to the Editor

Posted

Editor’s note: The following open letter to Middletown Borough Council was published in the Nov. 8 edition of The Sun newspaper and is being reprinted here with permission.

Dear council members,

I’d love to put the Middletown Press & Journal out of business. After all, as managing partner here at The Sun, part of my job is to put all of our competitors out of business. But I’m not going to help you put the Press & Journal out of business.

Your borough manager contacted us a few days ago, asking us for information about placing public notices in The Sun. This comes after you pulled your public notices from the Press & Journal and started putting them in the Patriot-News. Why did you pull your legals from the P&J? To me, it’s clear: You don’t like the way the P&J has covered borough council.

In fact, you went so far as to suggest that the P&J would get your business again if Publisher Joe Sukle and his writers would be good lapdogs. (The quote was, “Should the Press and Journal demonstrate reliability to professionally and responsibly report on the actions and statements of Borough Council and Management, as well critiquing us from a founded and balanced position, we will be happy to patron your newspaper again.”)

Well, folks, it doesn’t work that way. When you take a public position, you get public scrutiny. If Joe lies about you, sue him. Otherwise, you get what you get. The First Amendment doesn’t just guarantee it, it demands it.

By placing your public notices in the Patriot-News or in some other overpriced, out-of-town newspaper, you only punish the citizens of Middletown by spending too much of their money and by making it harder for them to get the news they need.

So, would I like your money? Sure, I thought about it. After all, making money is part of my job. But my bigger job, our greater responsibility, is to that First Amendment, to the freedom of the press that all of us are pledged to defend.

David Buffington

managing partner, The Sun, Hummelstown