Volume XVII, Issue 22 # May 28 - June 3, 2009

Letter from the Editor

Nourished by Newspapers

From our Summer Guide to The Capital’s Academy investigation, newspapers feed our minds and help us with our chores

Before we wrap the fish heads or watermelon rind or cornhusks in yesterday’s newspaper, the print on those still-useful pages has fed our minds every bit as much as fish, fruit and vegetables nourish our bodies.

So I’m delighted to hear your stories of what becomes of your well-read Bay Weekly.

Some of you send it onto family who’ve moved away from Chesapeake Country. Others recycle it on the bottoms of birdcages. Still others keep the paper around until they’ve unpuzzled Ben Tausig’s Xwords — Internal Medicine this week — or added their way through our Sudoku. Those are the ones who pray for recycling day to take them out of their misery.

You won’t get rid of the special supplement in this week’s paper so easily.

This is the week of Bay Weekly’s 2009 Summer Fun Guide. It will be three months before you finish this one.

Traditionally our Summer Guide has been an anthology of 101 Ways to Have Fun.

This year’s Summer Guide follows a calendar format, punctuated by planned events — like fireworks, seafood festivals and outdoor concerts — as well as our old-style essays on summer pleasures.

It’s easier to use and just as much fun, I think. But I’d like to know your thoughts. Drop me a line at [email protected] — or by mail, as many readers still do, at 1629 Forest Dr., Annapolis, Md, 21403.

Meanwhile, this week’s paper, the fish-wrapper for the Summer Guide, will satisfy your regular Bay Weekly cravings.

But keeping a well balanced reading diet means Bay Weekly isn’t the only paper we read. I don’t have to tell you that our dailies are getting thinner and less compelling as they try to remake themselves with less money, smaller staffs and readers they no longer know so well. Even so, we can’t do without them, and I hope we never have to.

So I want to congratulate The Capital for continuing to do investigative reporting in a climate that’s hostile — in two ways.

To recap: In 2006, The Capital (to which we’re not related) asked for public records about sexual misconduct at the U.S. Naval Academy. The paper didn’t demand names. Rather, at a time of obvious problems, reporters wanted information about the frequency of misconduct and how cases were handled.

On May 24, Capital editor Tom Marquardt laid out his paper’s battle with the Academy over records requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Academy responded with half-truths, obfuscation and delays in hopes that the newspaper’s interest would wane. It didn’t. It took a well-connected law firm with its meter running to pry forth the information, including dozens of incident reports, which should have been turned over three years ago.

Two points here: First, President Barack Obama has promised a new era of transparency in government. The information-misers at the Naval Academy seem to be out of step with their new commander in chief.

Second, The Capital’s dogged pursuit of information shows what people miss when they forsake newspapers for the Internet. A lot of these sites are slanted to reinforce their readers’ views of the world. But how many of them have you seen wage local fights for the public right to know?

The saga — both the story and the story behind the story — let in the light. Then, I used the pages to wash windows.

That’s why I love newspapers.

       Sandra Olivetti Martin
     editor and publisher