“Journalism Matters Now More Than Ever” is the theme for this year’s National Newspaper Week, which will be celebrated from Oct. 7-13.The event is sponsored by the Newspaper Association Managers, Inc., a professional organization of executives of state, regional, national and international newspaper associations headquartered in the United States and Canada, in recognition of the service of newspapers and their employees across North America.
As part of the week’s events, newspapers around the country will be publishing columns, editorials, and cartoons in support of press freedom. These are some comments culled from columns by editors at some of those newspapers on why journalism matters.
“To be sure, the change of bias has been leveled at journalists since the nation began — and was, in fact, welcomed by many in the first ‘journals of opinion’ and later by media moguls making no pretense at publishing anything but ‘news’ filtered through their own views.
“But over time, and by dint of the hard work and credible reporting by tens of thousands of journalists — in newspapers, and later in radio, television and now online — readers, listeners, viewers, and users gave their loyalty to news operations that brought them what they needed.”
— Gene Policinski, a founding editor of USA Today, is chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute and of the Institute’s First Amendment Center.
“The founding fathers decided more than 200 years ago that if democracy was to function as they intended, there had to be a means to keep tabs on the people’s governments. They adopted the First Amendment to make sure those governments couldn’t hinder the people’s right to know or silence the opinions that might not please those in power.
“Journalism exists to keep the people informed. It exists to spread knowledge and, yes, it exists to provide viewpoints from many different perspectives, to provide the fuel that people in a democracy need to take part in their governments.
“Journalism matters because democracy matters. The two are inseparable.”
— Dave Zweifel, editor emeritus of The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin.
“Journalism matters, now more than ever, because people matter. Community journalism matters, now more than ever, because roughly half the world’s population lives in small communities, and in the pages of their newspapers, they see themselves and the ones they love.”
— Matt Geiger, executive editor, News Publishing Co., Black Earth, Wisconsin
“While we’re not the story, the need for our journalism has never been more important to the people and communities we serve.
“It has never been more important for journalists to ask questions, scour public records and investigate malfeasance.
“It has never been more important for journalists to expose corruption, challenge assumptions and shine a light on sexual misconduct.
“It’s crucial that we continue to reinforce the importance of our role in society.”
— Rusty Cunningham, executive editor, La Crosse Tribune and River Valley Media Group, La Crosse, Wisconsin
“The media must play an important role as the Fourth Estate, hold government in check and shine the light on all the actions of our governors. That is the very intention of the First Amendment.”
— Jim Zachary, editor of the Valdosta (Georgia) Daily Times