More support for local journalism is needed now

By David Baxley Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication, Francis Marion University
Posted 7/27/18

The tragic loss of five journalists rips at the very core of our democracy. Journalists are parts of the fabric holding our country together. They report on elected officials - holding those people accountable. They cover diverse communities that …

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More support for local journalism is needed now

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The tragic loss of five journalists rips at the very core of our democracy. Journalists are parts of the fabric holding our country together. They report on elected officials - holding those people accountable. They cover diverse communities that would otherwise not have a voice. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press. The public's right to know is essential. The murders of five journalists in late June was an attack on that assurance.

We pause to remember those who lost their lives inside the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. It's also a time of reflection as we remember why a free press is instrumental for our nation's survival. Any attack on the press is unpatriotic and undemocratic.

Without journalists, we couldn't make sense of the world around us. Without journalists, we wouldn't understand both sides of political and social arguments. Without journalists asking questions of those in government, we wouldn't know how our tax dollars are being spent. Without journalists, we wouldn't know how our leaders are responding in times of crisis. Without journalists, we wouldn't receive emergency information nor would we be able to react. Without journalists, we wouldn't have a voice in asking city leaders when pot holes will be fixed in our neighborhoods.

Without journalists at The News, we would have a hard time understanding our community. The writers, reporters and editors at The News put it all in perspective for us. Now more than ever, it's time to support journalism in this community.

The storied past of the Capital Gazette is fascinating. The newspaper was one of the first to run the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Capital Gazette employed the first female newspaper publisher in the country. A diverse newsroom serving its community, even during tough times, is the epitome of any news organization. It enables our democracy. The newspaper, published the day after the murders of members of its own newsroom, showed the resilience of reporters - not only at the Capital Gazette, but also those who face threats every day.

As the Capital Gazette's editorial page read the day after the shooting: "Today, we are speechless." But, the madman with a gun won't stop journalists from doing their job and impacting communities they serve all across our country. To stop would be an affront to those we lost June 28. It would also mean our democracy would be less safe.

Kingstree and Williamsburg County are no different. Local stories are important. They help us understand our people, our culture and our lives. That's only possible if we continue reading the newspaper and recognize how vital The News is to this community.

May the work of journalists everywhere be the light we need in these dark times.