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Democracy depends upon newspapers. Good factor they’re holding on

by Eric Meyer

“Newspapers are lifeless,” a solemn however doubtful viewers of scholars heard. “In 10 years, they’ll be gone altogether.”

We’ve all heard the grim evaluation.

However it didn’t come this yr, when company greed downsized far too many newsrooms.

It didn’t come 15 years in the past, when social media started to cocoon us into echo chambers that allow us hear solely what we imagine.

It didn’t come 30 years in the past, on the daybreak of the Web letting us browse a number of sources of knowledge.

It didn’t come 45 years in the past, when cable information channels started giving us speaking heads, mouthing the identical factors again and again.

The grim evaluation got here 75 years in the past, in a journalism class that my father, a 1948 graduate, attended as a school senior.

Newspapers, he was informed, quickly would get replaced by a brand new, high-tech different:


Sure, fax machines.

As Mark Twain would have famous, experiences of our demise have been tremendously exaggerated. And it’s not as a result of we’ve been was unkillable zombies.

We haven’t died as a result of democracy wants us, and good folks nationwide understand it.

When you’ve got any doubts, have a look at the greater than 10,000 messages of assist we’ve obtained on the Marion County Report from everywhere in the nation and world.

Together with these messages have come greater than 5,000 orders for brand new subscriptions — not unhealthy for a newspaper that had a press run of solely 4,000 earlier than police tried to intimidate us with coordinated raids later discovered to have been unlawful.

They got here at us like a SWAT workforce going after a jaywalker who truly was in a crosswalk on the time.

Now that the mud of seizing seven computer systems and 4 cell telephones has settled, the reality has develop into clear.

Their raid wasn’t to analyze any crime, which by no means occurred. It was to place us in our place like a bunch of 300-pound defensive linemen smashing right into a quarterback after he releases a move.

Ultimately, the authorized system threw a flag on the play. However earlier than that, folks everywhere in the globe — 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 of them who learn concerning the raid on our web site, plus numerous others who examine it elsewhere — gasped in horror and demanded justice.

Talking reality to energy — the objective of each first rate information group — is simply too necessary to our democracy.

Our computer systems could have been seized, however our newspaper — together with the unvarnished reality it seeks to impart each week — couldn’t be silenced. If it had been, it wouldn’t have been a medium that died. It might have been democracy.

Democracy is, as Winston Churchill stated, the worst type of authorities — aside from all of the others which were tried.

Democracy requires reality and info — and a willingness not simply to take heed to them but additionally to present voice to them.

That’s what newspapers do — asking questions when others are afraid to take action and offering reality that others appear reluctant to simply accept.

An previous retort, meant as an insult, was that newspapers afflict the comfy and luxury the troubled.

However what’s fallacious with that?

Democracy isn’t about Barney the Dinosaur singing, “I really like you; you like me.”

Placing up a false façade of everybody agreeing about the whole lot may work if each politician, each bureaucrat, each particular person in energy was a benevolent dictator, caring just for everybody else’s well-being.

Ask the survivors of Nazi Germany or Putin’s Russia how that labored out.

True democracy isn’t neat and tidy. It’s about disagreement — everybody presenting his or her private truths in a public area, then coming collectively to compromise on one thing that’s at the least minimally satisfying to the bulk whereas defending the minority.

By their very nature, newspapers are charged with discovering hidden info, talking for the unvoiced, and arguing for many who can not simply be heard.

To some within the Barney era, that makes us unfavourable.

To others, it makes us patriots.

Eric Meyer is spending his retirement as majority proprietor, editor and writer of the Marion County Report in Marion, Kan.