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Citrus County Rejects New York Times Digital Subscription

Image: Citrus County Board of Commissioners, citrusbocc.com

Despite the fact that it would save the county about $300, Citrus County Commissioners voted against replacing its library system’s print subscription to the New York Times with a digital one.

The three-to-two vote Tuesday came about a month after the board received national attention when one of the commissioners called the Times “fake news” during a meeting. Commissioner Ron Kitchen voted against the proposal, saying it was a fiscal decision, not a political one.

“It’s not about censorship, everybody keeps saying censorship,” Kitchen said. “Here’s what I say: if the New York Times wants to be in the Citrus County Library, let them donate. Hear that, New York Times, America? If that’s the issue, let them donate it.”

The county currently spends about $3,000 annually for the print version of the Times, which is available in its four libraries. A digital subscription would cost about $2,700 and make the paper accessible to more Citrus County library cardholders.

Before yesterday’s vote, Kitchen criticized the media coverage their initial decision drew.

“You’re not going to hear the good things that happen in Citrus County,” Kitchen said. “You’re going to hear we’re a laughingstock, because, oh my, we actually said out loud that we supported the President of the United States.”

Chairman Brian Coleman proposed replacing the print subscription with a digital one, saying it would make the paper accessible to more users.

“There’s 70,000 cardholders that could be able to view this, whether they do it from home or whether they go to the library and view it, compared to, and I don’t know the numbers, but I’m sure it’s considerably less, looking at the hard copy at the libraries,” Coleman said.

Commissioners also talked about coming back at an unannounced future date to discuss a more formal policy for what newspapers the library would offer users.

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