I am supposed to meet with Ron Goudreau and Paul Grenier (separately) to talk capital improvements and taxes. Mr. Grenier said the bond will result in at least a $1.67 increase in the tax rate, which currently is $29.82. Mr. Goudreau said the $29.82 includes the first year’s repayment on the bond. There won’t be a tax increase, he said, because the bond payments are already figured into the tax rate.
I minored in economics, so hopefully I have enough financial understanding to sort this out for the voters. I don’t think it’s enough for a reporter to write down what people are saying; they have to dig into the numbers and analyze what’s really there. There were sharp words at Monday’s meeting, and I reported them as well as I could. Now it’s time for me to look into the numbers behind the numbers.
So expect that in next week’s Berlin Reporter. I’m glad there are still people out there willing to pay the 50 cents. It keeps me in a job, doing what I love.
- Mayoral debate at the Berlin city hall auditorium, Wednesday, October 28, at 6:30 p.m. Come see who you’re voting for and learn their positions.
- It is constructive remarks like those LPJ has received recently that convince me to allow anonymous comments. Glad to see the discussion stay clean. I appreciate people posting, no matter the viewpoint, as long as their goal is to build a better Berlin. So thanks.
- I bought the domain lastprintjournalist.com. I just put in a placeholder because I haven’t built the site yet, but I feel like I’ve got a fairly consistent thing going here, and I’d like to build it out. Journalists have to have websites these days, and I’m no exception. I’m not looking to move on from the Reporter, but I’m always looking for freelance opportunities, and if I’ve got a website to direct people to so they can see some of my work, it helps. Eventually I hope to have the the blog there, to house everything in one place, but for now I’m just saving my spot.
- There’s a public hearing next Tuesday about the ATV trail.
- It’s time to donate to NHPR. I freelance for them occasionally, and I’ll be reporting on Berlin’s ATV trail sometime in the next few weeks. They need money to pay me, so please, help me out by helping them.
I reread my story about Laidlaw investors saying they intend to send Mr. Grenier campaign contributions. It’s funny, but by the time stories come out I haven’t looked at them in a week. When I received calls and criticism about it, I hadn’t looked at it in a while. But after reading the story today I realize how off base those comments are. I thought maybe I’d screwed something up and been unfair to Mr. Grenier. But no, I was right on, and if I had to do it again I’d write the same story. I represented Mr. Borowski fairly, including his ties to the area and his good reasons for wanting to see Laidlaw succeed. I represented Mr. Grenier fairly as well, including his hesitation before he said he would reject any money from outside the city.
I thought maybe I’d left those things out. I thought maybe I’d been too worried about length and edited the story down. But no, I didn’t, I represented the various parties fairly and accurately. And in the end, no one in the story looks all that bad.
Sometimes accurate reporting makes people look like crap. That sucks, but that’s what I’m there for. Maybe there is some meeting going on in Berlin that, if made public, would make everyone look like jerks. I hope to be there. A few phone calls and complaints aren’t going to scare me off. My goal isn’t to make anyone look bad. In fact, no one has to answer to me. They are answering to the residents of Berlin. And of Gorham. And Milan, Dummer, Randolph and Shelburne. I’m asking questions for those people, because they don’t have the time to. It takes more than calling a fair story biased to make me stop. Or a page full of numbers.
P.S. Ryan — You don’t want to buy the paper if you stay in city government, because I won’t be able to curb my reporting for your sake. Sometime you’ll make an asinine comment that I’ll put in the paper, and you’ll want to fire me, and I’ll only have been doing my job, and it’ll be a great big mess. I agree, I’d like to see more people reading the Reporter. But the paper doesn’t come with the printing press. The daily owns their press. It’s in Conway and it prints three other daily papers; that makes their business viable. The Reporter is owned by Salmon Press, which owns 10 other weeklies around the state, which makes their business viable. Buy a press to print one paper and you’ll lose money at the speed of sound. Launching an online paper cuts that cost, but the advertising revenue online is negligible, not enough to pay for quality reporting. Berlin is struggling with the same challenges the rest of journalism is: how do you support quality reporting in the Internet age? Luckily community papers are successful enough to continue surviving. As far as I know, our market isn’t growing yet. I hope my reporting will change that, but in a world where people live more and more online that may not be realistic. There are blogs, yes, but few places online for high quality local news. Residents don’t need to read people’s opinions about what is going on in Berlin—they need the facts about what is going on in Berlin. There is not, at this time, a good model for how to provide that. I’m trying to resurrect a dinosaur here, singlehandedly. Berlin has a shot at rebirth, and it’s much greater than that of newspapers.
And Jon, thank you for the compliment on LPJ as a news destination. I’m glad people come here for news and to share their opinions, but there is 10 times as much news in every Reporter than goes on here and more in depth analysis. My story about shareholders didn’t break here, remember, it broke in the Reporter. We all come here talk about it, and people add value to my work by commenting here, but the fact is this is a side project that doesn’t pay for groceries or pay my rent. The real news is in the paper; this is just the 21st century water cooler.
I wish I had an answer for newspapers. They are so valuable. I love my work, and I think it is integral to maintaining democracy. I’m lucky to have a community and an employer that supports me. What the future holds I don’t know. Will Berlin support two papers when everyone gets high-speed Internet and starts posting their ads on Craigslist? I doubt it. Which paper will fold, or will both? I don’t know. But right now, at a time where Berlin needs quality reporting so residents can make important decisions about their future, the two papers are still there. Hopefully a new model will be created before the old one dies. Otherwise there won’t be anyone out there to find out who is giving money to what causes or who’s numbers about the tax rate are accurate.
So buy a paper. Maybe a subscription for your mom for her birthday? I don’t know, but I hope everyone reading this realizes the value of quality journalism. We need it, and the fact is, it isn’t free.