Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: newspapers


USPS proposal plays favorites with mail customers

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree on at least one issue: They’re concerned about a U.S. Postal Service plan to offer special, monopolistic postage rates that seem designed to favor one customer – the giant Valassis Direct Mail company.

Those lawmakers – as diverse as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California – have demanded to know why the USPS proposes to play favorites with its postal customers and give a huge competitive advantage to Valassis. The deal would give the company rebates ranging from 20 percent to 36 percent for new mailings containing ads by national retailers.

That could have serious consequences for the already struggling newspaper industry, which stands to lose more than $1 billion in revenue if direct-mail rates are reduced so drastically for a major competitor.
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Hecht case shows the necessity of healthy newsrooms

The authors of the Washington Post piece below, a couple of lefties, propose government subsidies as a remedy for ailing news operations. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Goodbye, independent press.

But they do get the diagnosis right: “The problem is that newspaper newsrooms, once packed with reporters, are disappearing, and neither broadcast nor digital media are filling the void.”

There’s no way this is not going to sound self-serving, but democratic self-government depends on healthy newsrooms (traditional or Web-based – but I’ve yet to see a purely Web-supported one).

This is a roundabout way of calling attention to the role this newspaper has played in helping Pierce County rid itself of a bad judge, Michael Hecht. (He’s not gone yet, but his felony conviction Wednesday guarantees he’ll go.) The News Tribune broke the news last January that the Tacoma police had investigated his reported use of prostitutes and his reported death threat against one of them.

Our newsroom has bird-dogged the story ever since. On the opinion section, we printed an early demand for answers from bar leaders and pressed the state Attorney General’s office not let the case drop (not prosecuting is always easier and cheaper than prosecuting).

Result: Hecht’s on his way out. He might otherwise have been looking forward to three more years on the bench.

I can’t think of a better example of how newsrooms alert citizens to rot in government. You may not be a fan of newspapers per se, but they’d best not wither completely on the vine before the Web can match their capacity to break original stories.

By Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols
Special to The Washington Post
Special to The Washington Post

President Obama, a self-declared “big newspaper junkie,” fears he might be forced to go cold turkey. “I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding,” he said last month to newspaper editors who asked about the crisis that threatens their industry and journalism in general.
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