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Murphy’s Law — Your MDDC Update with Executive Director Jack Murphy

By Jack Murphy

The MDDC board of directors is planning a summer strategy session on public notice advertising and the challenges facing the newspaper industry in the Maryland and Delaware legislatures.
Newspaper representatives and MDDC have been very effective in emphasizing that taking public notice out of newspapers puts older people, poor people and people living in rural areas at a significant disadvantage. But even our allies in the legislature are becoming skeptical, and we need to sharpen our arguments in advance of the next session.
Board President Paul Milton will schedule a meeting soon. If you want to attend, email me at jmurphy@mddcpress.com

Other notes from the May 17 board meeting:

Email addresses

I informed the board that we are facing a new open records argument with secretive local governments as well as privacy advocates who want to withhold some email communication between citizens and officials, including the name and email addresses of the correspondents.
A key issue for some legislators is that private individuals sometimes contact lawmakers seeking help on private family or financial matters. They want to be able to keep those communications secret.
We need a strategy for addressing these concerns, or we may find that sweeping restrictions on such records could be enacted.

Annapolis delivery issue

We finally concluded the voluntary agreement with the city of Annapolis that allowed our members to avoid a do-not-deliver bill that was introduced last summer. The Capital, the Sun and the Post all signed the memorandum of understanding, and we delivered the signed document to the city.

Foundation update

The $15,000 grant from the Philip L. Graham Fund last year has carried us through two intern classes, 2012 and this year. Having $7,500 additional each year has allowed us to have eight interns, and to work toward a new funding plan. The MDDC Press Service Board of Directors has been working on a program to sell a deeply discounted ad into member newspapers that would donate the space. The revenue would fund the foundation’s programs.
The plan is to pay a commission on the sale to an ad agency and still raise enough money to pay for the internship program and other projects. We did have some interest from agencies that sell advocacy ads, but the board decided that they did not want to offer the low rate to an advocacy group, since it might be construed as MDDC supporting the aims of the group.

Treasurer’s report

MDDC had a good first quarter financially, helped by a healthy increase in revenue from the advertising and editorial contests, and stronger than anticipated sales of the 2x2 advertising network. The association is operating slightly above budget on revenue and slightly below on expenses, yielding a better-than-budget operating margin.

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