Snell: Stand for something, or stand for nothing


Opinion: Snell 10/17

Barry Snell

You might have noticed in the last couple weeks that the Daily hit newsstands without what has become a common feature: the massive two page Sips, Paddy’s, Outlaws and Cy’s Roost advertisement in the center of the paper.

Last week, on Oct. 3, the Daily reported to you that Sips and Paddy’s had been closed by an Iowa health inspector for violations ranging from no hot water to, most troublingly, live cockroaches running around the bar. The inspector initially found these violations and gave the bars two weeks to take care of the problem. Upon return after that time, the inspector discovered the problems unaddressed, and the inspector shut Sips and Paddy’s down.

Sips, Paddy’s, Outlaws and Cy’s Roost are all part of the same corporation, and the ownership was upset with us for running this story (note: Outlaws and Cy’s Roost passed their recent inspections). As a result, they pulled their advertising from our pages, presumably as some sort of punitive action against the Daily for bringing the story to you. This account was our second largest advertiser, representing roughly $60,000 of annual business.

One might think we’d be upset by the loss of that much money. However, truth be told, those of us on the editorial side — the division of the paper that produces all the content you read — really aren’t.

Preeminently, the Daily, as an institution of civic information and discourse, is chartered and governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The purpose of the First Amendment, part and parcel, is not to entertain the masses nor appease the advertisers as many would have you believe these days but rather to inform the public about matters concerning them.

We maintain that unsanitary conditions in a place where food and drinks are served — the very health of the public we serve — is secondary in importance only to information regarding our government.

The sale of advertising space within our pages does not curry our favor for the advertised business; it is a simple business exchange in which the expectation is that we receive the money, so we print the ad. No more, no less. The trash from the lunatic Don Dough that you see degrading our pages on occasion is case in point.

This sort of business exchange is not unlike a customer’s money exchanged for a drink at a bar, with the customer’s expectation that the glass the drink is served in will have been washed with hot water and sanitized and not have had roaches crawling all over it.

The expectation for a bar is that the proprietor cares enough about the customer to ensure the customer’s good health. The expectation for us, the Daily, is that we’ll tell you, the public, the truth about things affecting you. This is our public trust, and only one of us in this story has upheld it. You, reader, judge which.

Furthermore, while the proprietors of Sips and Paddy’s might think they have somehow struck a blow at the Daily by canceling their advertising account here, we reply that the Daily is not interested in advertising a company within our pages who cares so little of their public trust that they would endanger the health and lives of their customers.

Besides, I question the logic behind canceling ads in the only significant publication reaching Sips’ and Paddy’s target audience anyway — especially after news comes out about cockroaches. One would think a business like that would need all the advertising they could get after that news.

To those restaurants and bars out there who not only obey the health codes but simply care enough about your patrons to make clean food and drinks in a clean establishment, many of us here at Iowa State and the Daily, including myself, thank you very sincerely and applaud your decency. We know who you are, and we’ll continue to visit your establishments with pleasure. Truly, thank you so much.

And dear reader, the loss of $60,000 might force us to shrink the paper for the time being unless some other business steps up, but you have our word: We’ll always tell you the truth, even when it hurts.