The other day I called the owner of a local business that had been in the news. I asked him if he would like to write a column about the experience. We had a lively conversation about what he could write. He agreed to try. He seemed happy to be asked.
And then he asked: "Is there a charge?"
I've been asked this question before. It surprised me anyway.
There are publications, broadcasters, blogs and other web-based media outlets that erase the line between news or editorial content and advertising. They offer a story - a flattering profile of a business or its owner, perhaps - or a mention of a product or service in exchange for an ad or other compensation.
But the best newspapers sustain the principle of editorial independence. They keep faith with readers, sources and advertisers by maintaining an invisible wall between news and advertising, and by separating editorial decisions from financial ones. They don't expect or want - and they won't accept - compensation for editorial content. A hearty thank you is all that's needed.
We don't always make clear to readers, news sources and advertisers where these lines are. That's what I tried to do with the business owner.
When it comes to columns, stories, photos or other editorial content, we don't require you to advertise. And there is no charge.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @IDS_DavidStaats