by Rick Claggett
(Rick Claggett is publisher of Watermark, based in Orlando, Fla. A slightly longer version of this editorial originally appeared in the November 29, 2018, issue of the newspaper.)
“Print is dead.” I’ve heard this for at least 10 years, and it is just as false a statement today as it was back then. The internet has made strides that some newspapers couldn’t survive, but dead? We’re still breathing and we are in good company.
|Watermark’s Rick Claggett
I was in college by the time the internet was taking off — thanks, Al Gore. Only a few students even had a personal computer. My roommate was one of them. He spent a lot of time in AOL chatrooms, dialing long distance to meet and talk to new people all over the world. I never really warmed up to that aspect of the internet. I never felt “internet cool.” Maybe it’s because I say things like “internet cool.” I always preferred meeting people face to face.
I do remember the first time I surfed the internet. I was at the computer lab, which was essentially just six computers lined up at the library, and everyone was abuzz with the things they were finding. One tennis-loving kid downloaded an image from the U.S. Open happening that day. After a four-minute download he gleefully exclaimed, “This was taken 10 minutes ago in New York!” In 1993, that was fast. Now this was the part of the internet I loved: information, knowledge and facts.
I get how appealing information on your phone is. It’s easy. You barely have to seek it out. I’m not sure how it started, but I get many, many notifications on my phone from WESH with a quick update on the latest local headlines and in seconds I feel informed. WESH is a legitimate news source, so I am confident that saying I feel informed means I am informed, of course I have to read the whole article and not just the headline to make that statement true.
Politics have obscured the internet’s ability to inform and educate. Feelings have worked their way into apparent news, void of facts at times. Anyone with a keyboard can create a blog, and in the vast landscape of the World Wide Web it becomes construed as news. This is why newspapers are important to me. This is why I’ve worked at a newspaper for 17 years and why I purchased Watermark in 2016.
Our goal is to inform, share knowledge and enhance communication in the LGBTQ community. We have two incredible, legitimate journalists on staff — Jeremy Williams and Ryan Williams-Jent — who work very hard to cover an increasing number of community organizations, events and breaking news to provide you with the facts. They work with a team of contributors who are equally as passionate about their roles in journalism.
We do allow space in our paper for opinions and those are reflected in our Viewpoint columns.
Watermark has a very active website and social media presence and we love being able to provide you our content in those platforms. In a sense, it is because of our ties to this community that we operate as if we were a nonprofit community organization. We donate over $300,000 worth of advertising annually to nonprofits and some small businesses in the form of sponsorships and trade. We do what we can to help support them. As I write this, it is Giving Tuesday and I hope our local LGBTQ organizations find the support they need from their community on this day.
Although Watermark is technically a for-profit corporation, there is a way for you to support us. When you need to make purchases, make sure you are doing it with a company that reaches out to you. Make purchases with Watermark advertisers. You can find them in a physical copy of the newspaper on newsstands or a flip-through version of the newspaper on our website. These businesses support you by supporting us — and you can support us by supporting them. It’s important for us to stick together in today’s political climate. Together we can keep spreading information, knowledge and truth.