Down on Main Street: Whig is Pushing Ahead

We’ve been planning on doing a story on the loss of the courthouse in downtown Elkton and more broadly on the evolution of Main Street fordsc_2596a a few months now.  Well we’d better get on it or we’re going to get scooped by the Whig on this one.  Our first alert came at Wednesday’s meeting when Commissioner/Aliance Director Jablonski announced that the Whig was working on a piece on the central business district.  With that bit of information urging us on, we walked into a long-time Main Street retailer to get an interview.  Figuring we needed to explain what we were doing, we said we were gathering data for a column on the business district.  The second alert came when the merchant, seemingly already understanding our purpose, said he’d been expecting us.  The Alliance had been in touch to let the retailer know that we were coming by to work on a story for them!  Being briefly speechless (only briefly), we explained to the retailer that the Alliance was probably making the arrangements for the daily and not for the blog Someone Noticed.

We need lots of news content in Cecil County so we’re pleased to hear that the Whig is digging into this one.  It’ll be interesting, though, to see what each of us comes up with as we work up the pieces.  We recall when the loss of the courthouse was originally covered by the Herald in an excellent piece and finally the Whig (after lots of urging) a month or two later.  There was very little similarity in the body of assembled facts, other than the courthouse moved out of town.  Whatever one thinks about the loss of the courthouse in the town center, it was an important transformation in the county.  We thought this significant change was of interest to current day readers and since papers are the first draft of history it was important to get an accurate recordation of the facts.  But researchers decades frm now will be puzzled by the different depictations, so they’ll have to consult other sources to get the “rest of the story.”  These sorts of reporting issues occur when one repeats the statements of officials, without asking a few challenging (at least mildly) questions and asking for other viewpoints (not the officially arranged interviews).

At least there was another newspaper to cover it and we remember a time when a cluster of reporters covered Elkton.  The News Journal, the Cecil Whig, the Times, and WSER, our day time A.M. radio station, attended town meetings.  A fifth one, the County Post, a small, feisty independent, may have been there in that period too.  With four or five professional journalists competing to bring the public the stories, it made each of them better since they couldn’t miss anything. As for the publishers, they knew they had to keep resources in the news room or they’d lose readership.  In those days there was some quality reporting that came out of local government coverage.  It also helped with openness of government for the town (and the county) knew that every action was a potential news story since the reporters had to compete on news content.

While local government still doesn’t have much media coverage, the blogs have broken up the monopoly by at least adding another voice.

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7 responses to “Down on Main Street: Whig is Pushing Ahead

  1. Dear Blogmeister,
    The Internet has forever changed the way Americans receive news and use advertising services. The old advertising revenue based sytem that served traditional print media for years is rapidly falling by the wayside. Major newspapers accross the country are curtailing operations or folding up completely. Why would an informed reader want to buy a paper that has a high percentage of soties lifted from the wire services when the same stories have often appeared on the Internet hours earlier? I believe the future for newspapers is to provide the public with unique local content that can’t be found elsewhere. Ifthe town commissioners really want to improve condiitions on Main St. maybe they should consider installing large area wireless Internet service. Making Elkton a wi-fi hotspot might attract some people to the downtown area. The town could even put some advertising or news directly on hte menu page that a citizen would have to use to access the net. A similar arrangement is used by many restaurants and Internet cafes.

    Elkton’s elected officials and the staff of the alliance will have to work especially hard to make up for the loss of 190+ county workers that moved out of downtown when theCecil County governemnt officers were relocated to that new building almost in Delaware. As a county seat municipality Elkton will always have some court related businesses such as law offices and bail bondsmen. However, the social service providers within the corporate limits also attract a crowd of clients from the lower end of society that brings a certain air of seediness to the town.

    I applaud Mayor Fisona’s efforts to bring rail service back to the Elkton. Making the town a transportation hub would be beneficial to local businesses and the local economy.

    With this, I remain, my dear sir, your most Humbe and Obedient Servant,
    Silence Nogood

  2. Nogood, you just might be on to something there with that WIFI. Imagine if downtown had a wide area hot-spot. One of the challenges we think they have to work on is how they get customers to come downtown since there’s a continuing loss of customers. Some 200 departed with the courthouse and they’re not coming back into town for lunch. Then there were some other losses, including just days ago the 35 workers from the health billing firm. But perhaps if people could connect with their laptops, it would give the local eateries a competitive edge.

    The Alliance certainly has its handsfull revitalizing downtown. They did before the loss of some 250 workers and then the economic slide, but now its a real challenge.

    The Alliance needs to focus its full energy on its core mission of downtown revitalization and make sure it had viable plans. We understand they’ve been reaching out as a broader economic development entity for the larger area, but those still much work to be done downtown. Let’s finish one job before we take on others.

  3. I don’t understand! Why does the Alliance alert some of the merchants that a reporter is coming? Maybe they also tell them what to say.

  4. Hey Santa, Ole Sam here. Where you been. It certainly aint Main Street or you would now the answer to that Santa. Ole Same thinks you have been up the North Pole to long and been frozen up. How long has that Alliance been around? Long time, for sure. Ever see the Whig say anything but what they wanted print? Nope that Whig asks them what they should say before they print it? I heard that on this blog thing and it’s right.

    Remember Ole Sam for Mayor. Dont forget to vote Santa when election time comes around.

  5. Ebenezer Scrooge

    BAH HUMBUG TO YOU SANTA CLAUS! WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON HERE ANYWAY!?

  6. They DO TELL THEM WHAT TO SAY and some reporters (who do not earn that title) cannot report properly, no doubt about that!!

  7. Yeah I read that they have 99 business downtown according to the commissioner that gets paid to run the alliance. What’s that bunch running the Alliance looking at when they tell them Mayor and Commissioners there are 99 business downtown. Any of them commissioners been downtown. They would know better than that if they had and wouldn’t let the woman running the town get by with telling the whig things that just are not right. If you have been downtown you will see how bad things are getting. Lots of homeless, lots of crime, very little normal in the way of normal people. Course there is no reason to come downtown after they have worked at fixing it up for 10 years. Just three or four stores still there.

    Go figure. What are they trying to do at that alliance other than jsut spending money .

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