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Matt Masters: Journalism matters because you matter

Matt Masters • Updated Oct 11, 2018 at 11:00 AM

This week is National Newspaper Week, a week dedicated to understand the vital role played by newspapers, especially in the contentious contemporary state of the United States.

Since the reign of ancient Rome, people have received information about current events, from stone tablets known as Acta Diurna, which were essentially government-issued bulletins. 

After the invention of the printing press in 1493, literacy spread throughout the world as the written word was more easily shared between different cultures and social classes. 

Modern newspapers began as early as the 16th century in Europe, and the American colonies had their first newspaper come to light with the ‘Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick,’ which began publication in Boston in 1690.

Trust and distrust of newspapers has ebbed and flowed with history’s revolutions and redirections, and it’s no secret in the United States there is widespread distrust of “the media.”

While much of this distrust is ranted about on Facebook – a rather bad example of “the media” – in reality I believe that most community members value their local paper. 

You come to us with birth and death announcements, community events and stories of struggle and success that permeate your lives. We try to give the community a voice while maintaining ethical standards of truth, objectivity and respect. Some days, we will perform better than others, but let it be known that reporters and editors are the most concerned with reporting the facts.

There will undoubtedly be times in the future where we will be faced with reporting on crisis situations that affect us all, and those are the times when we need to be trusted and supported most in our efforts to communicate what is happening in a fast and accurate manner. Between the instances of crisis lie daily opportunities to show the public we hold their interests above all else.

This isn’t a well-paying job or career, and most of the journalists in newsrooms and walking the streets across the country and the world do out of a passion for stories, truth, history and accountability. Most of those journalists are also far removed from the privilege, celebrity and high pay of many of the talking heads who have infected the media landscape with polarized positions and sensational headlines focused on ratings and clout.

It is paramount the public understands the challenges that face newspapers, and the significant efforts made by journalists and their colleagues to survive and succeed in the face of these challenges.

Because if a free press falls to the will of tyrants or by the flaws of an economic system, everyone loses, and the freedoms secured and defended by the blood of patriots may never be returned to the people.

So this week, we want to remind you of our thanks to you. To our readers, thank you to those who pay for a paper to be delivered to your home, for those who buy one on Saturdays at the gas station and to those who merely read us online. We would love more subscribers, but it begins with the appreciation that you read our words to begin with and an understanding that we are proud to serve our communities every day, regardless of the volatility of society or politics. Thanks also to our loyal advertisers who afford us a place to work and the resources we have to continue to innovate that work. 

Journalism matters because you matter. Help us to make it matter more by valuing what we do so we can do it better tomorrow.

Matt Masters is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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