‘We are not the enemy, we are your peers, friends, and neighbors.’

By Nikki McKim

I felt the editorial (below) by Judy Patrick of the Boston Globe was so important to publish in the Wednesday, Aug. 15 edition of the Falls City Journal.

This week you will read Patrick’s editorial in several newspapers across the country. It was brave of her to put herself out there. It’s a scary thing to do in this current political climate and in this business because people tend to tell you more about what you’re doing wrong and less about what you’re doing right. But when you let us know what we’re doing wrong it means you care about the paper and the local news we’re putting out and that’s what matters.

It seems like a good time to remind everyone that what we do is not something we do just for ourselves. Criticism is something that comes along with what we do. It’s difficult but expected with each printing of the paper. However, we are not the enemy, we are your peers, friends, and neighbors. We are the people standing on the sidelines of games with your children quietly cheering them on (inside, of course) and holding our breath as they get bumped around. We’re attending the same open houses for school, cheering at the same ball games, mourning the same losses, cooking for the same bake sales and donating to the same causes.

We put in miles on snow-covered roads and spend long hours on hot summer nights covered in bugs by the ball field to bring you a newspaper we hope you like. We don’t do it because we like being away from our homes, we do it because it’s a labor of love and pride in our community and its members. What we do is sometimes uncomfortable, grueling and just downright awful, but we do it because our community deserves an honest and good mirror of itself.

Errors are made because of understaffing issues.  An error is often an oversight and corrected immediately. An opinion is just that, an opinion. If we print something that someone doesn’t agree with that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Reader’s letters are welcome.

Right now newspaper publishers and staff across the country are nervously watching Congress and the current administration as tariffs on Canadian newsprint are being imposed, causing an alarming rise in printing costs. To reduce costs across the country newspapers are currently cutting staff, reducing print days and closing offices. If these tariffs on Canadian newsprint stand we risk our relationship with Canada and put our newsprint industry in dire jeopardy.

I hope you read Judy Patrick’s column and understand why it is so vital that you support your local newspaper, not just the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Kansas City Star or the Omaha World-Herald.

It’s important to all of us even the small papers, like us.

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Editorial by Judy Patrick, Boston Globe:

We’ve been complacent.

We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and that all this talk about us being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is.

But the reckless attacks have continued, instigated and encouraged by our president.

When the leader of the free world works to erode the public’s trust in the media, the potential for damage is enormous, both here and abroad. We once set an example of free and open government for the world to follow. Now those who seek to suppress the free flow of information are doing so with impunity.

The time has come for us to stand up to the bullying. The role journalism plays in our free society is too crucial to allow this degradation to continue.

We aren’t the enemy of the people. We are the people. We aren’t fake news. We are your news and we struggle night and day to get the facts right.

On bitter cold January nights, we’re the people’s eyes and ears at town, village and school board meetings. We tell the stories of our communities, from the fun of a county fair to the despair a family faces when a loved one is killed.

We are always by your side. We shop the same stores, attend the same churches and hike the same trails. We struggle with daycare and worry about paying for retirement.

In our work as journalists, our first loyalty is to you. Our work is guided by a set of principles that demand objectivity, independence, open-mindedness and the pursuit of the truth. We make mistakes, we know. There’s nothing we hate more than errors but we acknowledge them, correct them and learn from them.

Our work is a labor of love because we love our country and believe we are playing a vital role in our democracy. Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed and that’s what we’re here to do. We go beyond the government issued press release or briefing and ask tough questions. We hold people in power accountable for their actions. Some think we’re rude to question and challenge. We know it’s our obligation.

People have been criticizing the press for generations. We are not perfect. But we’re striving every day to be a better version of ourselves than we were the day before.

That’s why we welcome criticism. But unwarranted attacks that undermine your trust in us cannot stand. The problem has become so serious that newspapers across the nation are speaking out against these attacks in one voice today on their editorial pages.

As women’s rights pioneer and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells wrote in 1892: “The people must know before they can act and there is no educator to compare with the press.”