Clarifying The Rumor Mill

As with all things, sometimes rumors will outweigh the reality of a situation.  Earlier today, I received a tip that the Cecil County Office of Economic Development had threatened to pull financial support from the Chamber of Commerce over the now-contentious matter of the upcoming Company of the Year Award.  I have learned that, after the recent meeting, it was reaffirmed that Chesapeake Publishing and the Cecil Whig will indeed be recognized with this award.  Being naturally curious, I sought comment from Vernon Thompson, the Economic Director of the Office of Economic Development in Cecil County.  Mr. Thompson was gracious enough to reply.  Here’s what he said:

“The information you have been provided is incorrect. The office of economic development is a close partner with the chamber and the Whig. The decision of the Chamber regarding the “Company of the Year” was theirs to make.   It was based in part on the ability of the Whig to recalibrate successfully in a difficult market for print media.   We support the Chamber selection.”

Thank you, sir, for the clarification.  Whether or not we agree or disagree with a decision, it’s very easy for unsubstantiated rumors to be confused with facts.  In my experience, people do many things that deserve criticism, but we should be cautious to not demonize someone unfairly or based on false or half-truths.   More on this story later.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dan, Thank you for bringing this whole “under the table” deal to light for the unknowing folk like myself. I’m curious – do you perhaps have a list of the nominees? Why wouldn’t the Chamber publicly post a list of nominees prior to the award, and/or get a public opinion of who should receive it? For what it’s worth, it seems a bit unscrupulous to me.

    • That’s a good suggestion, I think, posting a list of possible nominees and seeing who the public thinks is deserving. My understanding, although unconfirmed, is that Chesapeake was the only company nominated which makes the whole situation even more perplexing to me. I mean, are we really being asked to believe that there is not one single company in Cecil County that has actually responded well to the current economic troubles and not resorted to massive layoffs and cutbacks? I think we’d be hard-pressed to identify a company in the county who eliminated more jobs in this same period of time. Of course, we’ve seen the disconnect between the good of the people and the good of businesses and corporations increase over the past years, and this is another example. The layoffs and plant closing et al are unquestionably bad economically for Cecil County, but they are likely good for the company’s bottom line. Does improving your bottom line at the expense of the people your business serves qualify you for Company of the Year? Apparently, in this day and age, it does.

  2. I’ve always been only lukewarm about the Whig. While the local reportage on things like crime used to be OK, by now I think there’s one guy with 2 or 3 names who writes it all (and takes the pics). The rest of it is wire copy. Where the Whig has always lagged is the editorial page. I used to live in Monroe, MI, a county of about 100,000, and they had a very active editorial page and staff which was a delight on a daily basis. The best the Whig can do is reprint articles from other papers, or occasionally do one of those painfully lame “thumbs up / thumbs down” pages which is really just a cheap news recap. Blech. I let my subscription lapse a couple of months ago, and they’re due to call any day now to see if I want to pay up again… last time they gave me 20 weeks for the price of 10. Let’s see what they come up with this time.

    • You’re not alone. I hear many of the same things from most of the people I know, especially the complaints about wire service copy. This is partly the reasoning behind why I’m trying to start up something a little different with the Upper Shore Horizon, to bring some engagement back with the community. Just take a peek at the Cecil Whig website sometime. There’s no comments on any of their stories posted there. None. Even here, my random ramblings about stuff generates some audience comments pretty regularly. If the local newspaper’s coverage can’t even instigate a response from the readership, then how pertinent can it really be? Check out some of the local blogs like Someone Noticed, in contrast, and you see a pretty steady stream of comments and discussions on the content being posted there. The only way publishing is going to survive in the long run is if we get back to actually being something useful and engaging in the lives of the people we’re supposed to be serving.

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