In This Together: There’s value in news, whether fleeting or lasting


The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of the Davis Clipper.

The two photographs just over my desk at the newspaper offices are there for a reason.

I framed and hung them to send myself a message.

One is of a lighthouse on the East Coast commissioned by George Washington. It stands majestically over the rugged coastline south of Portland, Maine, sending ships a message of warning. It has done so since 1791.

The other is a sandcastle that was built on the wide stretch of sand within view of arresting Haystack Rock during one of the annual contests at Cannon Beach, Oregon. It went out with the tide later that same day.

East Coast and West Coast. Permanent and temporary. Purposeful and just for fun.

The two photographs together are a reminder that some things you write can last a long time. Others are fleeting.

A reminder, too, that even fleeting things can be worthwhile.

Those of us in the newspaper business know that some news is past its usefulness shortly after it comes out.

Bird cages and fish and all that.

Like the notice of an event coming up on the weekend or the results of a race finished on the last one.

Other stories may have more lasting significance.

Like the ones that result in change. Or the ones I hear about being framed and hung on a wall at somebody’s house.

But each one is significant. Each has a purpose.

It might be to let you know about a show or a festival that would be fun for the entire family, which is why I find a newspaper whenever I arrive in a new town. Because I’m not there just for the scenery. I want to attend the craft fair and the community parade and the dance festival, and the newspaper gets me the details.

It might be to let you know about a decision of the school board or the city council. Because we know you can’t go to every meeting, and we know that where the boundaries are matters and why your utility fees might change is something you need to know. And we know that somebody needs to be watching what city leaders and school board members are doing, not to mention presidents.

It might be just simply to let you know about your neighbor. Because everyone has a story and the more stories we know the better.

Newspapers are needed.

Just like that lighthouse, someone needs to let people know when there is danger. Just like that sandcastle, someone needs to let people know where there is fun.

Which brings me to reporters.

They stand sentinel. They watch the shore. They see the storm. They light the night.

They fill a vital role and one whose value has been proven through history.

Just so you know.

Which brings me to the First Amendment.

It makes clear the priority freedom of the press was to our founders. Right up there with religion and speech.

Because there is no freedom from tyrants without someone watching and reporting on their actions so that people can react and act appropriately.

Just so you know.

Which brings me to fake news.

There is no fake news in newspapers.

Just people who want you to think there is so you will think what they want you to think instead of what is being seen by people close enough to know.

Fleeting or lasting, the news that comes out in newspapers is as vital to freedom as legislators and judges.

Just so you know.

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