“I went into journalism to learn the craft of writing and to get close to the world I wanted to write about - police and criminals, the criminal justice system. I still look at a newspaper as the center of a community. It's one of the tent poles of the community, and that's not going to be replaced by web sites and blogs.” – Michael Connelly
Today (October 6th) is the beginning of National Newspaper Week, the 79th annual celebrated in recognition of the service newspapers and their employees across North America provide for us all. Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press are not only important freedoms but perhaps our most important freedoms. That is, perhaps, why our founders put them into our Constitution’s “First” Amendment.
In the 1960s, when I began my own writing career – as a journalist on a local newspaper in South Dakota – journalists were held in the highest esteem. Today, they are often vilified by government and political leaders simply because they continue striving to shine a spotlight on the truth, often an “uncomfortable” reality that those leaders would prefer to keep in the shadows.
In a note to newspaper publishers, the NAM (Newspaper Association Managers), sponsors of National Newspaper Week, said: “When journalists are obstructed, so is the public’s right to be informed and hold power to account. The United States has some of the strongest legal free speech protections in the world, and serves as a beacon for press freedom in a world where journalists are routinely censored, attacked, or imprisoned for their work.
"But the U.S. record is imperfect, and journalists and advocates must tirelessly defend the First Amendment in courts, in legislatures, and in the media. Constant vigilance and an honest accounting of the country’s track record on press freedom are essential.”
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