On the Soapbox

Finding My Voice in Print

by Lynda Lambert
How about everybody kicking in for what they read? Nothing is really ‘free’—if it costs money to produce, somebody has to pay for it.

I started writing this column for the Chronicle about eight years ago. I believed I had something to contribute and I wanted a voice. I went down to the Chronicle with some sample columns and a proposal and they gave me the chance to speak.

Over the years, I’ve talked about everything from child care to tax structures, crabs to cars. I’ve tilted at tailgaters, government nimnals, and errant English grammar.

My words have, occasionally, had some effect. (I do not think, for instance, that it was a coincidence that less than a month after I complained about the illiterate traffic sign at the corner of Charles and Coldspring, it was corrected.)

I enjoy writing for the Chronicle, not only because I actually, maybe, might, sometimes be able to effect change, but because The Baltimore Chronicle is a “good” paper, one of the few.

There are few papers, for instance, that still tell all sides of a story, that research down to the last detail, that tell both the beginning and the ending. The Chronicle always has.

The paper is literate and maintains a sense of decorum and general decency that I find personally refreshing. I wanted, for instance, to originally call my column “The Baltimore Bitch,” but my editors made me see the sense of picking a name that was not just for titillation, but really meant something to me. “On the Soapbox” did.

The “soapbox” is where my father often found himself. He, too, was lucky enough to have a public voice. But he didn’t speak though a newspaper, he spoke on the air. My father was Lee Case, known to all and sundry as “The Morning Mayor of Baltimore radio.”

For over 45 years, when he wanted to sound off about something, he’d say he was climbing onto his soapbox. It seemed the right place for me to be, as well.

And so I have been here for these eight years, and hope to continue.

Like all of The Baltimore Chronicle’s writers, I write for free. I write because I feel something needs to be said. And the Chronicle allows me the vehicle to say it. But I am only one very small voice. There are bigger voices... important voices that speak through this paper and need to continue to be heard.

Now publishing on-line, as well as in print, The Baltimore Chronicle is receiving national recognition for its reporting of recent national events.

Costs of publication, however, as well as simply lacking free time to keep the paper going, may force the paper to end publication by 2003.

I, as a reader, do not want to see this happen.

Whether on-line or in print, I believe this paper needs to continue.

Since a good part of the problem is money—money to hire help, money to pay for production—I suggest we consider paying for this “free” paper. If each reader—paid just $12 a year for the paper, I suspect it could continue.

I have my $12 check at the ready. What say you?

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This story was published on December 5, 2001.