Out and About (Sort of): Preserve Daily Presence by Howard Freedlander

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Were I an NPR commentator, I would be quick to step up during periodic fundraising drives to plead for donations. No corporate pressure would be necessary. I would believe in the message; I would endorse the need to keep this extraordinary radio outlet in the air and serving its listeners.

I feel the same about The Talbot Spy. In eight years, it has provided an electronic medium to reflect the good and bad about our county. It has provided a voice for a variety of community leaders through excellent interviews. It has unleashed columnists armed with vastly different viewpoints and writing styles.

When I retired nearly eight years ago, a friend introduced me to Dave Wheelan, the intrepid editor-publisher of the embryonic The Talbot Spy. I liked him immediately. He invited me to become the editor. After just leaving the work world and knowing a bit about being a print newspaper editor, I said no.

Dave and I kept meeting for periodic lunches. He paid sometimes, but not always. Then, perhaps in 2014, he asked if I would be an “advisor.” Having always loved journalism, I agreed—on one condition. I wanted to write a weekly column about local matters. Dave accepted my request.

When I began writing “Out and About (Sort of), I wondered who, if anyone, would read my weekly commentaries. I had little, if any idea about the power and scope of this electronic publication. I had been regularly reading one about Annapolis politics. I liked it; I knew the editor-publisher, a longtime Maryland journalist.

A funny thing happened on the way to becoming a regular pedestal-sitter. I learned that friends, acquaintances and others actually read what I wrote and felt free to share their comments with me, either as letters and frequent emails, or at social occasions. I must admit I did feel a tinge of pride. More to the point, I began to realize that this guy from Chestertown and Talbot County newcomer named Dave Wheelan had created a media product that resonated with increasingly more people.

This was the real thing. I wished for it to remain part of the journalistic landscape in our county. The demise of journalistic outlets throughout the country causes me concern.

After eight years, the Spy seems permanent. It has a place. It has an identity. It is sustainable.

To go back to my reason for writing this particular column, I encourage readers to donate to the future of this daily publication. I urge you to help ensure that the Spy continues to provide a platform for a county filled with worthy activities, enlightening people, serious social and political issues and a readership that is unafraid to express its opinions and insights.

My fundraising message is my own. No prodding from the Spymaster was necessary. I believe that the Spy has established itself as an integral part of our community. It complements The Star Democrat; it doesn’t replace it.

I am not writing to retain my part-time job. I am not writing to be invited to enjoy Dutch-treat lunches with Dave Wheelan. As an official non-profit entity that capitalizes on the pervasive Internet, it has expenses covered mostly but not entirely by advertising and partnerships.

Please donate. You and our county will continue to benefit from a daily dose of news, culture, video interviews, opinions, letters and history.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

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