The owners and publishers of the Lake Sentinel are among the dumbest people in America for continuing to publish columns written by Lauren Ritchie. Decades of publishing Ritchie’s absurd columns have reduced the newspaper to nothing but a hidden Sunday coupon wrap-holder for soap and toilet tissue BOGO coupons.
Lauren Ritchie obviously envisions herself as some great opinion writer for a major newspaper where readers sit down with a cup of coffee to read a 3,000-word column that hits every minor detail so they can become better informed. She doesn’t realize that her style of journalism is dead and that she, as a columnist, has become irrelevant.
A Lauren Ritchie column is torture to read because it focuses on minor nonsense to make irrelevant points about people she dislikes. She will write 200 words to make a point no one cares about if she thinks it will embarrass her target. In the journalism world, Lauren Ritchie has become the drunk at the end of the bar that just won’t shut up so everyone just tunes her out. She doesn’t get that making a column longer just to be snarky loses readers. Brevity is what great writers do these days.
The primary election proves that time has passed Ritchie by, as all of the candidates she supported for county commission seats lost. The primary election showed a complete rejection and repudiation of her liberal message and it wasn’t because the message was liberal. It was because her message was unfair, snarky, and lacked critical thinking. When she defended Jimmy Conner’s bullying behavior, it was obvious she was a sellout.
In Ritchie’s column published on August 18, 2016, she attacked Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., a 71-year old Lake County business. Her column was void of facts and contained innuendo, assumptions, and outright lies to promote the failed candidacy of Lake County Commissioner Jimmy Conner. It was apparent that media bias was on full display.
In her column, Ritchie said Lake County impact fees were, “…a hideously high number.” Ritchie and Conner may support those hideously high impact fees but no reasonable person supports Lake County having the highest impact fees in the state. A homebuyer in South Lake County has to pay $12,933.00 in impact fees for an average size home. To set up a mobile home on vacant land, an owner must pay a whopping $9,143.00. It is even worse for commercial property owners. A doctor building a 10,000 square foot medical office has to pay $39,240 in impact fees, and that does not include the building permit fees. Impact fees in Lake County are hideously ridiculous.
Yes, Ro-Mac is opposed to these high impact fees. Yes, Ro-Mac believes it places an undue burden on homeowners, young families, renters, and people trying to start a business in Lake County. Yes, Ro-Mac stands with the tens of thousands of workers whose livelihoods depend on opportunities in the construction industry. Yes, Ro-Mac stands with groups like Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter, Florida, that say Lake County impact fees are destroying affordable housing. The thousands of customers, hundreds of business partners, and 300 employees of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., know the truth. That is why Ritchie and the Lake Sentinel have no credibility.
Don’t expect people to respect you or your newspaper when you don’t respect them. Being tough and telling the truth is one thing, but lies, exaggerations and innuendos is a coward’s way. Ritchie has cowardly hidden behind the “I am a columnist” banner too long to justify her lack of facts and attention to real details. A newspaper cannot falsely attack its readers and advertisers, and then expect their readership and support.
In the last 19 years, dozens of Lake Sentinel advertising account representatives have come to my office to sell me advertising space. Each time, I tell them no because of Ritchie. Most often they sheepishly say, “We hear that a lot.”
You can’t accuse the owners and publishers of the Lake Sentinel of being smart—attacking and lying about a 71-year old local business is just dumb.
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