Community newspapers are not a public enemy

By SCPA Executive Director Bill Rogers

Let’s make one thing crystal clear…the press is not the enemy of the American people.

It is hard to believe any thinking citizen in South Carolina or around the country would actually believe that. Yet some do.

These attacks against the media by President Trump – mostly against the national press – have gone on far too long and likely won’t stop. But we as citizens must stop believing them and not let community newspapers be tarred by their brush.

Our founding fathers stood up for a free press and so should you.

We need newspapers in our communities to monitor government spending, cover police activities and report on our utility companies. And to cover our community life: weddings, funerals, school news, sports and more. Newspapers are community builders and watchdogs, not the enemy.

Cries of fake news and hate speech against journalists risk undermining our democracy.

To that end, The Boston Globe is encouraging newspapers across the country to editorialize on the importance of journalism in democracy — and to the communities we all serve — in their editions on or around Aug. 16.

“This dirty war on the free press must end,” Globe editors wrote in their call to action.

Thomas Jefferson — who had a notably tempestuous relationship with the press — was a president who still often rose to defend it.

He once wrote while serving in Paris as Minister to France:

“The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution…

“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.”

South Carolina journalists are a dedicated lot. They work long hours and aren’t getting rich doing it. Their purpose is to serve you, the reader, and they need your support, not derision.

Bill Rogers is executive director of the S.C. Press Association, which represents the state’s 15 daily and 83 weekly newspapers. The Press Association has been defending press freedom since 1852.

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