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Brian Boyd, Editor, Shore Publishing/Zip06.com

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July 5, 2020
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The Courier’s Predicament

Published Jan. 08, 2020

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I applaud the Courier’s position concerning advertisers in its newspaper (re: Jan. 2 letter “Gun Ads Unfit for Community Newspaper” by Debra Paulson). Sensitivity exists concerning gun control, and I support reasonable controls on gun ownership. Equally, I understand the position of many gun owners and their individual reasons for owning a gun. This letter addresses personal and business freedoms and is not supporting any gun control position.

The editor cites that gun advertisements are “offensive or otherwise objectionable to…readers” based on correspondence received. We should recognize that people finding an advertisement or story to be appropriate will probably not engage the Courier. The Courier was presented with correspondence presenting one side of the argument. Without scientific measure of the general sentiment of all readers, the Courier is left to use its own judgment.

To highlight the Courier’s predicament, what if a paper received emails critical of an advertisement for a Christian church? What about people finding an advertisement for Planned Parenthood inappropriate? Should the Courier or any other publication curtail advertisements like these?

As for the Courier being a privately held company and maintaining the ability to accept or reject business from its advertising customers, we should recall the Colorado cake maker refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Business choices like these have far-reaching consequences.

The letter criticizing the advertisement questioned if we should “focus our energies on living in a community that embraces conversation, respect, and empathy.” I believe the Courier’s decision to run the advertisement in question and the Courier’s response to criticism about that advertisement is doing just that. Again, the Courier should be lauded for its position and response. A newspaper’s choice on what to publish should not hinge on what might offend or make readers uncomfortable.

Phil Beckman
Essex