Selfish buyer can’t stop the News

Unless you are a subscriber to the Lake Placid News, it was difficult to find last week’s issue of the paper at any of our Lake Placid vendors.

Someone went around to the places that sell our newspaper in Lake Placid — from small businesses to big chain grocery stores — and bought all their copies on Thursday morning, Aug. 22.

After some phone calls from vendors saying they had sold out, we quickly collected 70 copies from the Enterprise office and Saranac Lake vendors and resupplied the sellouts — places such as Price Chopper, Newman’s News, Adirondack Corner Store and Walgreens drug store. Then they sold out again, so we distributed 70 additional copies, and those sold out.

Now that the numbers have been tallied, we can say that the mystery buyer bought about 720 copies of the News all over Lake Placid, missing only five at a couple of our smallest vendors. He or she apparently didn’t hit outlying areas such as Wilmington, Keene, Jay and Saranac Lake since our vendors there didn’t sell out.

Who would do such a thing?

We’ve been told it was a person who had been arrested and may have been trying to prevent people from reading the police blotter on page A7. We’ve heard that a person was buying the papers for visitors at camp. At this point, we have to consider these tales to be unverified rumors. Our staff tried to track down the buyer and motive, but we hit dead ends and ran out of time, considering all the other news we had to report this week.

Either way, one thing is clear: This was a selfish act, and — depending on the motive — it could be viewed as an attack on journalism, especially if someone was trying to prevent the public from reading what had been published.

Some people may view this sellout as a good problem for a newspaper to have. After all, we got paid for those copies, right? Yes, but the more we thought about it, the more upset we got.

Many loyal readers who pick up their Lake Placid News while getting coffee or shopping for groceries complained that they could not find a copy. They wanted to read the stories, obituaries, calendar, sports, police and fire calls, etc. People who gave interviews to our reporters wanted the community to read about that. People wanted to see the classifieds and do the puzzles we publish every week. And they wanted to see the advertisements and get their flyers and coupons from local stores such as Price Chopper and Hannaford.

The person who gobbled up hundreds of copies of the Lake Placid News took that opportunity — that right — to read the hometown newspaper away from the community. The impact was swift and reverberating. It was the talk of the town.

Yet it did not prevent us from getting the news out. Copies of the paper could still be purchased in neighboring towns such as Saranac Lake. Subscribers had been mailed their copies without any lapse in service. We heard stories about Lake Placid readers sharing copies of the paper with their friends and neighbors.

Beyond that, we made the unprecedented decision to upload PDF versions of each page on LakePlacidNews.com for our readers to see everything we printed — even items you can’t regularly get on the website, such as puzzles, advertisements, press releases, and the police and fire calls.

People who say print newspapers are dead or dying — especially in small towns such as this — are greatly mistaken. Our readers missed their printed copy of the Lake Placid News last week, and they wholeheartedly let us know about it. During the process, the benefits of a printed newspaper were highlighted.

Moreover, we saw firsthand how important it is to be a subscriber, as those deliveries are not affected by the sellouts.

We’ll continue to publish the news no matter what — in whatever form possible — to make sure we serve our readers, our advertisers and our communities to the best of our ability.