Purchased news costs integrity

  Dear HCN,

I am a reader with only a single year of experience with your publication. I have learned to enjoy the doom, irritation, pique and hope that your publication brings to my home on a periodic basis. Being a born-and-bred Lexingtonian ("Home of the Revolution," don't you know ...), my move West opened my eyes to a new revolution our country is undergoing. With that small year's worth of experience reading your paper, I purchased a gift subscription for my mother (who lives in Boston) so that she, too, could appreciate the immense changes this region and our country is undergoing.

Why is it that I chose High Country News rather than my local paper to keep her informed of these changes? Because the news that traditional newspapers with their ties to commercial advertising deliver has been clearly corrupted by their dependence on commercial advertising. These papers are good for reporting on sporting exploits and the latest recipes, but they are fundamentally compromised by their ties to commercial advertising when it comes to natural resource reporting. Commercial radio and television suffer from the same compromised ethics. Avoiding this "purchased news" (my term) is why both my mother and I receive High Country News.

Imagine my surprise to read that High Country News (via Writers on the Range) distributed a piece by Frank Carroll of the Potlatch Corporation. Potlatch Corporation is a self-described "diversified forest products company" with $444 million in sales in the first quarter of 2001. Their ability to influence press coverage is the reason I subscribe to High Country News and not my local newspaper. You would have been hard pressed to find a less "connected" partisan for this or any viewpoint.

This was exactly the purchased news that I had hoped to avoid. If your desire was to produce a balanced viewpoint, were you looking for that balance to occur at the cost of your integrity? Rich and powerful corporations are able to purchase all the news coverage they want; why are you building their pulpit?

Charles J. Ferranti
Portland, Oregon