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American Journalism Review
Pretty Tame, Actually  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Letters
From AJR,   April/May 2004

Pretty Tame, Actually   

I was disappointed and surprised at some of the conclusions of the "Wild Pitch" article in your February/March edition.

First let me make it clear that I'm the publisher of the Sun in Lowell, Massachusetts, a MediaNews Group property. If the basic point was a local daily should not be a leader or take on a crusade for a major community cause, then I would strongly disagree with the conclusion.

If the premise was a community newspaper shouldn't put its money where its voice is, then I think you were wrong. If the premise was a community newspaper should make full disclosure of its role and should see that the opposition has at least equal play, then no one will dispute the point.

But it seems to me the Berkshire Eagle made it clear through the process that it wanted to see the baseball park project happen. The Berkshire Eagle clearly disclosed it was willing to put up $2 million for the project. It also seems to me that the Berkshire Eagle gave an enormous amount of space to the opposing side.

The Sun went through a similar issue several years ago, prior to becoming a MediaNews property. We vigorously editorialized for a baseball stadium/ arena project. We published many pro-baseball arena stories, and our newsroom made sure the opposition had its say. We too went to a public referendum on the project, and the voters of Lowell supported building the complex. It has made a huge difference in the economic and social life of the community.

The baseball team is one of the most successful in all the minor leagues and sells out every game. The arena attracted an American Hockey League team, and more than a million people a year attend arena events.

In many urban areas the local newspaper remains the most solid force to unify a community. Bank mergers, corporate convergence and a decline in locally owned businesses have removed many of the old power structures in cities. The community newspaper has a responsibility to inform and lead. Being an advocate with its editorial voice is not incompatible with being a good newspaper in providing objective reporting in its news pages.

I'm proud that MediaNews supports and fights for efforts to improve the quality of life in the communities it serves.

Kendall M. Wallace
President and publisher
The Sun
Lowell, Massachusetts

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