We witnessed something interesting—and maybe a little disturbing—about the transient nature of social media this week. The Meeker Police Department posted a photo of one of the town’s “pet” deer before and after it was shot with an arrow by a careless, thoughtless individual last weekend, resulting in the animal’s death. Now, most folks around here hunt (or at least eat our weight in venison) and we decorate our homes and businesses with antlers and fur, but we also have a healthy reverence and respect for the life of those creatures, particularly the ones who take up residence in our yards. The post spurred immediate outrage.
Within a few hours, comments ran to threats and accusations, and that’s when things got ugly. The MPD received complaints about the post because it was “inciting threats” toward the culprit and the photo was “too graphic.” (I’m pretty sure whoever complained about it being too graphic doesn’t live here or is new to town and missed hunting season.) The police department took the post down Monday night.
And POOF. Every comment, every reaction, every share disappeared in an instant. Gone, as if they never existed. All that human emotion and mental turmoil and wrath and rage just evaporated in a millisecond. (If only we could do that with those holiday dinner arguments with the in-laws.)
The internet has given us the power to rewrite/revise history in an instant. That power, coupled with the current push to repeal the FCC’s net neutrality regulations and give control of the Internet to the highest bidders, should serve as a warning to us all: we can’t allow digital media to replace so-called “legacy” media like print newspapers and magazines and books. Why? Because, as my husband said recently, “The ink shall remain.”
Ink has a kind of staying power that digital media lacks. Once it’s in print, it’s in print. You can’t just hit “edit” or “delete” to change it or fix it. Trust me, I know.
Despite its inherent imperfections, we need to keep print (ink) alive in this era of social media. A society whose channels of information are under the control of a handful of organizations or corporations or administrations is a society in danger of being overrun. There’s a reason our country’s forefathers included freedom of the press in the First Amendment. They understood the power a truly free press has to harness tyranny and expose corruption.
Here’s a thought: Anyone can publish anything on the internet for free. They invest nothing. There’s no editing, no vetting, nothing required to prove validity and few consequences. Publishing something on paper comes with a cost. Lots of costs, actually, and it remains as a record for the future. We need that.
After much discussion and seeking wise and experienced counsel, starting next week the price of a copy of the paper will increase to $1. It’s the first increase in 25 years. The cost for subscriptions has increased as well (but there will be a much greater discount for subscribers than there has been in the past).
As a reminder, the increase is just to cover costs of printing and mailing and distribution. We’re just catching up with a few decades of inflation.
We’re also catching up to new technology and have invested in new software that will make our online edition searchable, linked and mobile and tablet friendly. That new feature will “go live” in the coming weeks and will continue to be free for a period of time so everyone can get used to it. At some point there will be a nominal fee for readers who only want access to the online edition. Our print subscribers will continue to have free access to the online edition.
There’s a surprise in this week’s edition for lovers of crossword and sudoku puzzles (not just in the kids’ page). It’s something I hope we can continue to find room for.
I’m a bit surprised by the silence from the west side of the county following correspondent Jen Hill’s editorial last week about Rangely’s interest in the paper.
I started working at the paper within a few months of the merger of the Rangely Times and the Meeker Herald into one countywide publication. I was privy to the constant gripes and grumbles about “no Rangely news” and “too much Rangely news” from both communities. We’re still hearing that, more than 15 years later and to be honest, it’s frustrating.
I’m wondering if the best option might be to separate the two papers again. Whether that is financially viable is questionable. Does the Rangely community want their own newspaper back enough to fund it financially? Has the Meeker community adapted to including its county sibling, or would it like to go back to being the Meeker Herald? From a financial standpoint, siblings don’t get their own rooms unless the family has enough resources to buy a bigger house.
If the majority of our audience appreciates having news from both ends of the county in one paper, we’ll leave things as they are (less work for us!). As I wrote in my first column more than a year ago, this isn’t “our” paper. It needs to serve the communities it reaches, and it needs to do that in a way that satisfies the majority. We’re always looking for ways to improve. Thoughts?