Na­tional News­pa­per Week re­minds us that jour­nal­ism mat­ters

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

In case you haven’t no­ticed, this is Na­tional News­pa­per Week. The theme this year is “Jour­nal­ism Mat­ters.” Yes, it does. I wouldn’t be do­ing this if I thought oth­er­wise.

You will read a lot of things in this pa­per but not “fake news.” You can’t get away with that kind of stuff lo­cally. You will catch us at the gro­cery store or gas sta­tion or a foot­ball game and make us ex­plain our­selves. That keeps us on our toes to get it right and should give you the as­sur­ance that what you read is ac­cu­rate.

We are not the “en­emy of the peo­ple” as Don­ald Trump har­rumphs. That is a dan­ger­ous thing to say in a democ­racy. Thomas Jef­fer­son mused that if he had to choose be­tween “a gov­ern­ment with­out news­pa­pers or news­pa­pers with­out a gov­ern­ment, I should not hes­i­tate a mo­ment to pre­fer the lat­ter.” I think we need both. I guess that is why I am not pres­i­dent.

Not every­body loves us, nor should they. We have the right to ex­press our­selves and you have ev­ery right to agree or dis­agree. I have been at this for over 20 years now. Most of my mail is very grat­i­fy­ing. Noth­ing is more pleas­ing than to get a “thank you” for some­thing I said that had great mean­ing to you. But just when my ego is about to soar out of con­trol, I get a note from a reader who won­ders if I got my jour­nal­ism de­gree from a box of Cap’n Crunch or a Crack­er­jack box. (Ac­tu­ally, I got my de­gree from the Henry W. Grady Col­lege of Jour­nal­ism and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia, but, for some rea­son, they chose not to put it a box.)

One of the con­cerns I hear these days is that the news­pa­per busi­ness is dy­ing. Not so. The way the pa­per is de­liv­ered to you may be chang­ing as many pa­pers of­fer an on­line op­tion, but nowhere else are you go­ing to find in one place road clos­ings, school cal­en­dars, county and city com­mis­sion meet­ings, fu­ner­als, sports re­ports and the mus­ings of a mod­est and much-beloved colum­nist than right here.

The Woman Who Shares My Name re­minds me that it is here where you find pos­i­tive news, too. Good peo­ple in the com­mu­nity do­ing good things. Civic club projects, stu­dent achieve­ments, fun runs, fes­ti­vals and fairs. Try find­ing that in the gloom-and-doom na­tional me­dia.

Lest you think Na­tional News­pa­per Week is a just an ex­cuse to pat our­selves on the back (well, OK, maybe a lit­tle), you are a part of the equa­tion. It is our job to give you all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion and opin­ion we can gather to­gether and present it to you. It is your job to do some­thing with it.

We have an elec­tion com­ing up in a few weeks and will be se­lect­ing a new gover­nor, sev­eral mem­bers of Congress, state of­fi­cers, leg­is­la­tors and as­sorted oth­ers. Read the pa­per. Gather the facts. Make your de­ci­sion and then go vote. In these tur­bu­lent times in which we live, ig­no­rance is not bliss and ap­a­thy is not an op­tion.

Once we get them elected, it will be our col­lec­tive job to keep an eye on them and see how they do with keep­ing their cam­paign prom­ises (I think we both know where that one is go­ing), spend­ing our tax dol­lars and what de­ci­sions they make and why.

One of the chal­lenges we have is to re­mind our in­trepid pub­lic ser­vants that they work for us, not vice versa, and to do our busi­ness out in the open. That is where the news­pa­per comes into play. We can even the odds a bit by shin­ing the spot­light on them and their lizard-loafered lob­by­ist friends and the deep-pock­eted, out-of-state spe­cial in­ter­est crowds with whom they share drinks, din­ners, ball­games and out­ings but who never, ever in­flu­ence their po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions. Oh, barf.

But it’s not all pol­i­tics. We can have a lit­tle fun, too. I have found that hu­mor is in short sup­ply these days. I like noth­ing bet­ter than prick­ing the thin skins of the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect. They have the sense of hu­mor of a tree stump. Bless their hearts.

As we cel­e­brate Na­tional News­pa­per Week, let’s make a pledge. If you will keep read­ing, I will keep writ­ing (as­sum­ing that’s OK with the edi­tors, of course.) We are a team.

Jour­nal­ism does mat­ter. I am glad to be a part of it and I’m glad you are, too.

You can reach Dick Yar­brough at [email protected]­yarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, 31139 or on Face­book at

www.face­book.com/dick­yarb.

Yar­brough

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