Letters To The Editor


October 17, 2004

Competition for news isn't as it once was

Competition is "alive and kicking" on such national stories as the sniper shootings and the Expos move, as The Sun's public editor wrote ("Competition alive and kicking in newsrooms," Oct. 10). He means competition between metropolitan dailies in different cities. But, sadly, daily newspaper competition within the Baltimore area in strictly local news has been nonexistent for years.

When I began working at The Evening Sun in 1963, Baltimore had three general interest daily newspapers with three separate, competing staffs: The Sun, The Evening Sun and The News American. They fought vigorously on stories of little interest outside this area.

Their combined circulation was far greater than the current readership of The Sun. More stories were covered than now are.

There was more space for news. The readers were the wiser for this.

Hearst Corporation killed the News American in 1986, the same week the Times-Mirror Company bought the A.S. Abell Company. Five years later, Times-Mirror watered down The Evening Sun by removing most of its staff and it ended that paper in 1995. The Sun, a Tribune Publishing paper, is a monopoly here today.

So the "diminished number of daily newspapers" in fact does mean "there is less competition" today. The causes and results are many.

One result? Some local stories never get reported here at all and in other places because the urgency of local competition is diminished or dead.

If no one's around to beat you, papers might ask in some cases, why bother?

Ernest F. Imhoff


The writer was a reporter, ombudsman and editor for The Sun and The Evening Sun for more than 30 years.

Snuff out cigarettes to live a bit longer

It was pleasing and encouraging to read The Sun's editorial "Free from smoke" (Oct. 11). Comparing the particulate-matter emissions in a traffic tunnel to the secondhand smoke in a bar or restaurant is a fair analogy.

Workplace smoke is more than deleterious to a worker or customer's health; it can be downright fatal.

Ireland banned smoking in pubs throughout the country, and it worked. Montgomery County is doing a nice job with its smoking ban, too.

Let's snuff out the cigarettes and cigars and pipes at Maryland bars and restaurants and live a wee bit longer.

Larry Simpson


Fires form protest against city schools

There's no excuse for the fires set recently at city schools ("Walbrook proposes moving 300 ninth-graders," Oct. 12). But those of us who teach and work in our under-funded school system -- especially those in neighborhood schools with high numbers of at-risk students -- understand the anger behind the flames. We see it almost daily.

City students are fully aware that they are not getting the same quality education other students receive, and they know what this means for their future.

As one student once told me in frustration: "We're broke." She expressed sadness and resignation.

Others don't talk or write letters to the editor. They use their lighters to get attention.

Karen Watson


The writer teaches environmental science in a Baltimore high school.

Iraq is reminder of Vietnam War

Thanks for an article depicting what it's really like for troops on the ground in Iraq ("Long an Iraqi target, no U.S. help in sight," Oct. 11). Please provide more of the same.

As a veteran of Vietnam, I was seized by an attack of dM-ijM-` vu as I read of persistent rocket and mortar attacks on what should be a relatively safe installation.

More importantly, the article starkly illustrated two of the greatest flaws in this misbegotten invasion.

Our troops are spread too thin to even protect each other, and political considerations and politicians count for more than the recommendations of military commanders on the ground and the safety of our troops.

Moreover, the Iraqi attacks clearly indicate that the Iraqi people see us as invaders -- and not as liberators.

It is no coincidence that our president rarely mentions those who are paying the price for this ill-conceived military misadventure.

Reality doesn't serve his political purposes, and that's all he really seems to care about.

Joe Roman


Better bus service between the suburbs

Several recent letters have noted the need for better bus service in the Baltimore area ("Improving transit will add residents," letters, Oct. 9).

One of the major flaws in this service is the lack of dependable cross-county service. I can relate to this issue firsthand. I recently left a job in Owings Mills because of commutes that were taking nearly two hours each way.

To travel between suburban locations, the commute usually involves taking a bus into the city to a cross-town line or downtown and a final leg of the trip on the Metro or the light rail system.

The current system, designed many years ago, works best for suburban commuters going into the city.

There are few options for those traveling between suburbs, as one can witness nearly each day given the gridlock on the Beltway.

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