Bruce Greenberg’s rally speech

Hey everyone. Some of you wanted to read the speech my husband, Bruce Greenberg, wrote for the rally and presented in front of the Record Searchlight today. Here it is:

“A local newspaper has certain responsibilities. Besides being the medium to keep us informed about our community, it is one of the main ways for the public to openly and continuously examine the ways our local government exercises its power, spends public money and makes decisions.

It is our window into the democratic process.

If a newspaper shirks this responsibility, by either reducing its staff or shifting duties to other areas, then we, the public, have lost one of the checks and balances to keeping government open and honest.

Our founding fathers thought this was important enough that it was in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

As a business, our local newspaper is responsible to provide the product promised in exchange for our payment. What we pay for and expect is news that is relevant and balanced.

The editor and publisher of this newspaper have slashed the newspaper’s staff. The result is a daily newspaper with less local stories and more wire stories, many of which are sensationalistic and irrelevant to our community.

It appears that what’s going on here is a power play.

There are two kinds of power: Perceived power and real power. Perceived power is what the editor and publisher of this paper have, by virtue of the fact that they were hired for their positions.

Real power is what is held by us, as members of this community. We exercise our real power every time we choose to open our wallets and buy a newspaper or respond to a newspaper ad by buying advertisers’ products or services.

In the last few months we have lost the editor, managing editor, photo editor, graphics editor, classifieds manager, the librarian, the executive secretary, the cops reporter, and most recently, my wife Doni Greenberg, columnist and food writer. Before her, many others left when they accepted the corporate buyout offer.

All were crucial to the daily operation of a quality newspaper.

The rank and file staff left behind are hard-working professionals who lack the tools to do their jobs effectively.

I believe the responsibility for the mass exodus of talented employees at this paper falls directly at the feet of our new publisher and editor.

My father used to tell me, “Don’t listen to what someone says, watch what they do”.

As I watch what is going on here at the Record Searchlight, it appears that this publisher and editor are gutting this paper. I believe the management of this paper is cutting staff so they can send the corporate office ever greater profits.

Unfortunately, what’s lost in this trade-off is the kind of newspaper this community wants and deserves.

I believe what we are witnessing here is the dismantling of a quality local newspaper that is being replaced with an advertising delivery system.

Of course we could use our real power. We could just stop buying the paper and it would eventually dry up and blow away. But that is for this community to decide. I hope that if we continue to let E.W. Scripps know that we demand a management team that has the skills and desire to give us the kind of paper we deserve, that they will send these two interlopers back to wherever they came from.

Then, perhaps, we’ll get the kind of management team who understands the newspaper business. People who are engaged with, and genuinely care about, the people who are our neighbors and friends.

If the Scripps corporate managers in Cincinnati don’t get the message, then perhaps it’s time they have some competition.”

– By Bruce Greenberg

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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