In case you were wondering, our editorial goals are—in no particular order—to create positive, nurturing connections between our readers and our advertisers, to report newsworthy items pertaining to our readers (the English-speaking population of Puerto Vallarta), and to promote our destination and our communities in the most favorable way possible, remaining balanced, factual and truthful. Two separate incidents this week promoted us to remind ourselves of these goals and to reflect on how to best achieve them on an ongoing basis.
One incident had to do with our Paper Mache feature. When we were looking for the background story on Mauricio Vargas’ whimsical creations, we didn’t realize that he had gone through such legal troubles to protect the authorship of his works. We were pleased to learn of the favorable outcome, but to keep things balanced, we went looking for the other side of his story. Unfortunately, our request for comments remains unanswered.
The other had to do with a letter we received from Samuel French, a New York-based American company that publishes plays, represents authors, and sells scripts. Most importantly, Samuel French grants permission to theater companies so they can perform the plays they represent by collecting royalties from the companies. These royalties can be per individual performance or per season, and the cost can vary from play to play, the most popular or commercial often the most expensive.
This business of collecting royalties puts food on the tables of playwrights around the world the same way we put money on the tables of restaurant owners and employees when we go out dining in town, or in the hands of kind senior citizens that bag our groceries when we tip them. What happens when we leave the restaurant without paying? Not only are we stealing, but we are also taking away hard-earned income from those involved in creating our meal. When theater companies choose to produce and present plays without paying the aforementioned royalties, they are doing exactly the same.
Why did Samuel French contact us? Apparently, there are royalties that remain unpaid from shows that have been performed in town in the recent past—we have the list. Of course, this places our publication between a rock and a hard place. Letters to the editor are an important component of many publications and are used by readers to raise issues. They are usually intended for publication, but newspapers—Vallarta Tribune included—reserve the right to publish such letters.
We are quick to denounce “the bad guy” when he/she/it attempts against our animals, our environment (lately, our natural water resources), our bodies, our safety and our livelihood. We are quick to celebrate when justice prevails in criminal or legal cases. But, where do we wish to position ourselves and this publication in order to fulfill our editorial goals without being perceived as the bad guys?
This is up to you, kind reader. For years we’ve focused on positive issues. We’ve addressed restaurants, activities and live performances in the best light possible. In doing so, we’ve exhausted the credibility of words such as awesome, amazing, fabulous, dazzling, incredible and many others by regurgitating them ad nauseam.
We can continue to do so, but I strongly believe you deserve—and increasingly expect—better than that. Where do you stand?