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Anyone who has been a reader of The Jewish Post & News (either the paper or the website)  over the past few years would realize that, as editor, I don’t shy away from letting readers tear a strip off me – or any other individuals who write for this paper.

But, following publication of the last issue, I received two emails in quick succession, both of which took issue with articles that appeared in that issue. I should explain that each edition is emailed to online subscribers a day before the print edition is delivered. Both emails arrived before the print edition had been delivered, but both emails also came from individuals who are not subscribers to the paper. (I know all our online subscribers by name and I immediately knew that someone had forwarded their copies to these two emailers.)

Any publication that has online subscribers faces this problem: It is not at all difficult for legitimate subscribers either to forward their online edition to anyone they like or, if a particular publication requires someone to have a username and password – to pass that username and password along to others. (I know that some publications limit the number of IP addresses which can be used to receive a particular publication, but we don’t do that.)
I am well aware that the moment I send out the paper to online subscribers many of those subscribers forward the paper to quite a few other individuals. Of course, this is a source of great frustration for me, as this paper is a business and we rely upon subscription revenue for part of our income. I hope that, if you’re reading this, and you are one of those individuals who likes to forward your online edition to others that you stop to think about what you are doing. Why not ask those individuals to whom you are forwarding the paper to spend the $26 that it would take for them to become legitimate subscribers instead?

So – what happened in the case of both those emails is that I responded to the senders by asking whether they, in fact, were actual subscribers to the paper? In subsequent emails I explained that  my policy has been not to print letters from non-subscribers. We receive many emails from non-subscribers asking us to print letters. I simply do not print them – unless they come from someone who has pertinent information to give about something that appeared in the paper.
One of those emailers took particular umbrage at my asking him whether he was a subscriber - and to take issue with my refusal to  print his letter. Now apparently  a relative of his is also threatening to cancel his subscription because of my policy of not printing letters from non-subscribers. But, we do allow comments on our website from anyone who might like to respond to an article that appears on the website. I invited that individual to post a comment on the website, but he remains adamant that his letter appear in the paper.
I’m curious to know what others think about my policy. I might also point out that, upon occasion, I have printed op-ed pieces in response to something that appeared in the paper, but I insist on seeing the op-ed before I agree to print it. I don’t make carte blanche promises to print something without seeing it in advance.

It’s nice to know that the paper is widely read; however, like almost all other publications these days, it’s a tough business to be in. In a world where readers don’t like to pay for content it’s becoming increasingly difficult to survive. So – if you’re one of those two individuals who sent me emails following the last edition – or if you’re one of those individuals who likes to forward the online edition to others, think about it: If you want your say about something that appeared in the paper, how about a quid pro quo? Is it too much to ask for $26 to become a legitimate online subscriber? Then I guarantee you I’ll print your letters.

Post script: After I penned this column one of the two emailers to whom I’ve just referred did post two commnents on our website. That emailer criticized a piece I had written about the Board of Jewish Education suing two parents for upaid tuition.You can read those comments at the end of the article:


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