Imagine my surprise when the man I was interviewing accused the school board of trying to sneak a new policy past the public.
I had written about the policy twice before and both articles had appeared on the front page.
That he didn’t know was not the board’s fault or mine.
It was his.
Imagine my surprise when the same man complimented our paper on the coverage we’d given his daughter’s sports teams.
How he got past the front page to the sports pages without noticing the things that may have mattered more than his daughter’s team’s play, I didn’t ask.
The work of a newspaper is to bring to the attention of the public the things they might need to know. Plus educational things, interesting things, heart-warming things and curious things.
We go to city council meetings and school board meetings. We follow crime and business. We pass along upcoming events and latest studies. We air concerns from people of disparate views.
It is a service that is vital to a free society.
It is the first thing to go when democracy is at stake. Dictators-to-be inevitably stop the presses and silence the media.
The rise of the Internet age has threatened, among many other worthy businesses, the newspaper industry.
But it’s not just a bunch of jobs that would be at stake, it’s more.
We were taught way back in journalism school that the media could be considered the fourth estate. While the executive, legislative and judicial branches check the powers of each other, the press keeps an eye on them all.
It has proven true throughout the history of the United States.
You’re thinking Watergate, I’m thinking about that little town in California whose mayor and top officials were getting $400,000-some salaries until the newspaper found out.
Because even papers that cover little towns can make a difference.
The Internet is a fine place for news if it comes from the right source, not including comedians and bloggers.
But until those legitimate news sources can find ways to finance their reporters and photographers, society will lose a significant protection.
I’m worrying to a sympathetic audience here.
You, who are sitting at your kitchen table reading the Davis Clipper and finding out about what’s happening in local schools and cities by turning pages and getting ink on your fingers, are the ones who have benefited from our work and who keep us writing.
And you, who buy ads to reach those readers, are the ones who keep our electricity on.
And you, who read content on our website and Facebook and Twitter comments are a great support too.
As has been seen with local dailies and with newspapers as solid as the Washington Post, we need more of you.
I don’t have the answer. Not for newspapers or post offices or movie theaters.
But if you, too, believe in the value of quality news at all levels, let someone know.
And in the meantime, thank you for reading.