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Support Freedom Of The Press At The Community Level


By Dan Darrington 
My wife is a gardener, and a very good one I’m glad to say. She has surrounded our screened porch with many colorful flowers and shrubs. Also there is a hummingbird feeder as well as a feeder with birdseed. Her butterfly bush is just that. Many of those little guys dine there and give us much enjoyment. Our backyard is alive with birds and butterflies of all sizes, shapes, colors and songs.
One of the many pleasures we enjoy is sitting on that porch in the mornings with a steaming cup of coffee, reading our newspaper. We’ve done it for years. Many people still enjoy reading the paper. Next time you’re at the Waffle House on Sunday morning, look around; you might see someone with their face in a paper.
But today that pastime is in jeopardy! The newspaper industry seems to be going the way of old generals and defeated politicians; it is just fading away. Many papers have lost significant amounts of readers and younger people now get their news (if they get any at all) from the Internet.
Prior to the age of computers, our major sources of news were newspapers and TV, most of which are owned by the same people. But today people have many choices and newspapers, in general, are losing! Some say that in the near future a printed press will be no more. I hope that does not happen. Most big city papers, I believe, are skewered toward a somewhat socialist agenda. But if you know that, you can read between the lines and still enjoy reading a paper. There’s always sports, the financial page, entertainment info and crossword puzzles, jumble, bridge, your horoscope and, for those of you who call yourselves Progressives, there’s always the funnies!
Freedom of the Press was so important to our Founding Fathers that they put it in the very first amendment to our Constitution. That first amendment also gives us our freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, the right to assemble peacefully and the right to redress our grievances.
So, as you see, a free press, not controlled by the government, was paramount in the minds of old Thomas Jefferson and his buddies.
But the newspaper business has changed greatly since those wise and brave Americans put those remarkable words on paper. Small newspapers have been gobbled up by huge corporations and conglomerates. There are not many independent newspapers left like the ones old T.J. and the boys envisioned. A newspaper should be the eyes, ears and pulse of and for the community and people it serves.
To do that a paper should air opinions of its readers. But most papers won’t do that unless that opinion parallels their own. Try getting your non-socialist opinion in a big city newspaper. Ain’t gonna happen! Which brings me to the point of this writing.
I wonder how many people in Pickens County realize what a treasure you have in this newspaper you are now reading! This paper prints letters from its readers expressing opinions on literally anything and everything. Some letters are from regulars who have opposing views on various subjects. They remind me of little verbal catfights, played out on the pages of this paper. They’re entertaining and, on some rare occasions, even meaningful.
So I say to you my fellow citizens, if you feel strongly about some issue that has been festering in your gullet for a long time, write down your thoughts and send ’em in! This paper will give it serious consideration and, if it’s not vulgar, nasty or slanderous, you have a good chance of sharing it with your neighbors. Sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest.
This paper has not yet been gobbled up by Mr. Big and I hope it never is. You should feel that way too.
I don’t know what this paper’s political philosophy is and I certainly don’t agree with all their editorial opinions, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be, “Different strokes for different folks.”
So I urge you to buy this paper, advertise when you can and patronize their advertisers, because you’ll miss it if it goes away or is consumed by some big city press.
[Darrington is an occasional contributor to this paper through letters and columns and a regular Progress reader.]