Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Florida county commissioners bar library from digital NYT subscription; one because he said it's 'fake news'

County commissioners in rural Florida refused to allow the library to buy a digital subscription for The New York Times last week; though three of the four commissioners blocked it because they believed it was an unnecessary expense, the fourth commissioner, Scott Carnahan, said he agreed with President Trump that the Times is "fake news" and didn't want the newspaper in Citrus County, Mike Wright reports for the Citrus County Chronicle. Citrus County has a population of over 141,000, but it's spread over small communities.
Citrus County, Fla. (Wikipedia map)

The Citrus County library system already pays $3,000 a year for a print subscription available at all four locations. The three-year digital subscription would have cost $2,657 per year for the first two years and $2,714 the third year; it would have provided free digital access to the Times for 70,000 library cardholders, Wright reports. Library director Eric Head said the digital subscription would not replace the print subscription, though they would consider canceling the print subscription if the digital one proved popular enough.

Public reaction to the decision was mostly negative. Commissioner Brian Coleman said he thinks they should discuss the matter more. "Do I think I made a mistake? Yes," Coleman told Wright. "Our decision should have been impartial, instead of having it become a personal thing."

Carnahan said he still believes the county should not pay for the subscription, but said it's because of the expense, not his personal views about the paper. "I’m open to a free press . . .  Not at the taxpayers' expense," Carnahan told Wright.

"The Citrus County Special Library District Advisory Board, comprised of members appointed by the county commission, will schedule a special meeting in early November to discuss the issue," Wright reports.

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