National Newspaper Week, an annual celebration and recognition of the important role newspapers have in their communities, is being observed next week, Oct. 7-13.
This year’s theme is Newspapers — The Cornerstone of Your Community. It’s a fitting theme.
In a world where people are addicted to Web pages, blogs, social networking sites and text messaging, it’s comforting to read a newspaper. Newspapers offer something social media does not — accountability.
Not everything online is true, nor should it be taken as such.
When reporting the news, there is nothing that is as important as the printed word. Broadcast stories can be changed between noon and five, Internet sources can be updated instantly, but having something in printed form adds a tangible layer of accountability. Once a story is printed, it can be slapped down on a table to be cited, disputed or just discussed, but it’s not going to change.
This is a double-edged sword. Newspapers provide a lasting record of the events and happenings of the day. However, when mistakes are made, it takes time to run a correction.
The Founding Fathers of the Unit-ed States recognized that a free press was essential to the representative democracy that they forged in the Constitution. Incorporated as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution, the freedom of speech and press were guaranteed to the American people in the same breath as freedom of religion.
Part of a newspaper’s job is to help keep government transparent. In a representative democracy, it’s important to know what those elected to office are doing and why.
Newspapers remain the keystone in keeping government transparent, because they have professional reporters who are paid to attend meetings, ask questions and dig into why government does what it does. This can’t be duplicated by someone with a website who posts his or her opinions as fact.
There have been many times that people have complained that city, town and county councils and commissions have done something without letting the public know. However, many times these complaints are made after the meeting or proposal in question was advertised or reported in a local paper.
Government entities are re-quired to advertise the sale of property, notices about hearings, advertisements for bids, financial reports, adoption of ordinances, and other government activities in local newspapers. The reason is to add to the transparency of government.
As a community paper, The Richfield Reaper remains committed to reporting the news and chronicling regional history.