Kudos for printing the story about the Empire's request for a property tax exemption. Shame on Morris Communications for it becoming a story in the first place. Kudos to those Assembly members and the mayor who carried denial of the claim. Shame on the Assembly members who don't seem to have a clue where to draw the line.
The Empire is a retailer, not a manufacturer (though there are those who might contest the issue of the publisher trying to manufacture the news).
The Empire resells most of the news it provides, and the lion's share of advertising revenues are garnered from prepared pieces provided by advertisers that it reproduces.
Morris Communications seems to take the position that anyone who applies some ink and a little creative content to paper, or to a Web page, spam e-mail, etc., deserves manufacturer status.
I would not be surprised if the whole issue occurred without the input of the local managing staff, having spent (some time ago) a number of years myself in a corporate environment, where the people on the ground don't count when it comes to some self-important corporate executive's agenda.
I can only say that if I were Don Smith, given the amount of money at stake for the "exemption," I would have put my job (or $1,200/year out of a healthy salary) on the line to discourage any such attempt. What is the value of the community's perception of your motives, when you are one of the primary news-information sources?