Union Editorial: Local and national challenges to press freedom won’t stop us – will you?

In the  last few weeks, we’ve experienced the president of the United States declaring our country’s news media “the enemy of the people.” In keeping with his view of press freedom, a state university administrator threatened lawsuits against local journalists over news coverage of an issue of deep interest to the community. Then, political zealots at City Hall attempted to prohibit news photography in a public building.

The surge in journalist harassment only adds to the incessant background noise of harassment and hostility to one of democracy’s most vital institutions.

While news subjects might be able to disgrace the White House and California State University system, or even halt democracy in Arcata for a time, they won’t stop the news from being reported. Only you, the community can do that.

When the president disparages journalists, we’re all quick to rush to the defense of our free press. The rest of the time, we take his cue and blame “the media” for all kinds of conspiracies that journalists truly do not have the interest, energy,  time or brains to engineer.

Your local commnity press – this newspaper, among others – isn’t a faucet to be turned off and on per the winds of fashion. It needs consistent support, criticism and participation to function properly.

Newspapers and the inky, grungy, not necessarily photogenic drudges who put them together, continue to attend meetings they aren’t welcome at, call people who’d rather not talk in order to ask questions that aren’t wanted.

On a local level, the people who do this are responsible not just for the journalism, but the layout and construction of the physical newspaper object. On top of all this, they – we – are now paying $3,000 more per year to get the paper out, thanks to new tariffs on newsprint. #MAGA

Arcata has had a continuous weekly newspaper since 1886, and that’s embedded in this paper’s DNA. The personnel currently serving you  were privileged to work at the original Arcata Union, and cursed to have seen it through its demise in 1995.

We don’t intend to go through that again, and operate on the assumption that the community wants to maintain a traditional weekly newspaper that’s open to all without fear or favor.

Our weekly cycle of reporting, composing, publishing and distributing the newpaper remains an exquisite priviliege, but it’s never easy. In the end though, the newsaper is a product of, and reflects the community it is chartered to serve.

There are two ways to achieve that, with drastically different results: by supporting journalism and our free press, or by doing ride-alongs in the golf cart of powerful special interests and true believers acting to isolate the press and eviscerate the First Amendment.

 







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