Now more than ever, journalists are needed

“Journalism matters. NOW more than ever.”

For 78 years, National Newspaper Week has reminded readers each year of the value to our communities and our democracy in maintaining a vigorous free press. The theme for this year’s observances is focused on the challenges of the moment.

Journalism does matter. Fact-finders, reporters, questioners … they matter precisely because too many in positions of power wish they did not.

Right here in our communities, newspapers matter because our readers know they can turn to us for the real story, when social media has run amok. They know our reporters will ask the questions — of all sides — for which our readers need the answers; that we will not shy away from doing the difficult work to tell the whole story.

Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute and of the Institute’s First Amendment Center, said “Power of the press is in being the Way to Know for news consumers.”

That is what we are. When we are called “fake news,” “enemies of the people,” or a prominent official says “don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper,” it is a sign we have reported something they do not want you to read. Ask yourselves why.

Community newspapers are nothing if we have not earned our readers’ trust, and we place as our highest priority the accuracy and thoroughness of our reporting. When we make a mistake, we fix it. When our readers need more answers, we ask more questions.

We shine the spotlight on the dark places some in power would like to keep hidden. We are what some have called our nation’s fourth branch of government.

“The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in explaining the need for that Fourth Estate in protecting our nation.

Journalism matters.