I was the first person to write a comment on David Holwerk’s column written on his departure from the once scrappy San Francisco Bee. Holwerk used to be the Trib’s Editorial Page editor. I doubt if many are reading his column which means even fewer will read my reply so I’m publishing my comments here to rectify that.

I remember Mr. Holwerk even though, like a lot of the Trib’s managment, he just passed through town staying for a short stint before moving on to the next assignment. The reason I recall him so well is that he was the editor who finally insisted that I stop copying Trib stories on the Duluth Schools and make them available on my own website. I clearly violated the Trib’s copywrite to do this so I had no legal ground to stand on.

At the time I served on the Duluth School Board and I justified (rationalized) that keeping the stories accessible had a higher public purpose. I didn’t make any money from keeping them online and the Trib would be hard pressed to show that they lost money because I chose to keep the stories online. Besides, just like now, my actions as a school board member back then helped generate stories and that was good for the paper’s bottom line. Without news there would have been no point in reading or subscribing to the paper.

I’ve alway liked that quote about the newspapers being the first draft of history. Its a shame that in this age of unlimited Internet storage you have to pay the Trib $2.95 to retreive old news stories to get that first draft.

David wrote in his fairwell to journalism that among their many virtues Newspaper’s “stood up against numerous interests that would loot the public treasuries.” Yeah, well I don’t see that in Duluth.

Instead the Trib’s policy of hiding historical stories behind a three dollar fee only serves to underline Santyana’s warning: “Those who do not know the past are condemned to repeat it.” Worse yet, I’m still waiting to see some serious first drafts of Duluth’s history that the Trib (or Forum Communications) finds too inconvenient to investigate. Like, for instance, why are ten percent and counting of eligible Duluth Public School students opting to attend other schools while our public treasury is being looted?