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Editor has newspaper resolutions

January 05, 2009|By LINDA DUFFIELD

As 2008 faded into history, it is possible that we breathed a collective sigh of relief to see the end of a year that brought such economic turmoil.

While there is no guarantee that the country's problems will be solved in 2009, it is nevertheless a time for taking stock, for new beginnings. It's a time when people make resolutions about things they hope to accomplish in the coming year.

I have some resolutions -- or maybe they're wishes -- for the coming year that I'd like to share with you.

My top job-related wish is that we at The Herald-Mail continue to provide stories that inform, entertain, amuse and sometimes surprise you.

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We strive each day to put out a top-notch paper, and I believe we do that more days than not. I would like us not only to continue to do that, but to exceed our own expectations so that you, our readers, are proud to call us your newspaper.

I would like us to have fewer mistakes, miss fewer stories and offer crisp, clear accounts that are easy to read and to understand.

It is my wish that we maintain our role of watchdog of government, that we continue to look out for your concerns and that we hold public officials accountable for how they spend your tax dollars.

On a different note, I wish those folks who use the comment section of the poll question for their own personal forum would knock it off.

I know it's fun for you to snarl at one another over politics, but that isn't the place to do it.

Why not respond to the poll question and then, as one of you once suggested, meet over coffee to work out your political differences.

In that same vein, I wish civility would make a comeback. The lack of same is evident, especially on the Web, in some of the postings under stories and elsewhere.

Sure, I know it's fun to be really nasty when people don't know who you are. But I doubt that nastiness and aggression have ever brought anyone around to someone else's way of thinking.

And calling people names, especially unprintable ones, is grammar-school stuff, unworthy of adults.

Most of all, I wish that newspapers all across the country would find a way to remain viable -- in some form -- because I worry about the fate of democracy if they don't.

It's no secret that soaring costs and plummeting profits have forced papers, most notably some of the larger ones, to find ways to save money and be more efficient.

That has led to changes, the magnitude of which would have been unimaginable not so long ago.

I can't remember seeing an industry change this much in such a short time other than when CDs became the music delivery method of choice. One day, stores were full of vinyl albums; the next, they had all but disappeared from the musicscape.

Newspapers aren't disappearing. But their owners are taking steps to cut losses. For instance:

o The Christian Science Monitor plans in 2009 to become the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its Web site.

o The Tribune Co., parent company of The Chicago Tribune, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

o The Detroit Media Partnership says the Free Press and the Detroit News would deliver to homes only on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

o The Sun in Baltimore and The Washington Post are to begin sharing stories and photos in what was described as a deal intended to save resources for both organizations.

The newspaper industry has been a part of my life since I was a child reading the comics. It since has allowed me to make a living doing something I love. It is with great respect for that industry that I wish 2009 would see newspapers weather this economic storm and end up stronger and even more responsive to the public they serve.

Linda Duffield is city editor of The Herald-Mail. You can e-mail her at lindad@herald-mail.com.

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