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We are not enemies of the people

Newspapers have been called enemies of the people before, mostly by some of the people afraid of what the people would do if they knew the truth. It happens on the national level and, sometimes, locally.

There’s the story of a local editor whose newspaper had tracked down information about a county sheriff who had spent the public’s money on a personal vacation. After the newspaper started printing a series of articles about the trip, the sheriff ordered his staff to stop providing the daily arrest report – or any other news – to that newspaper. The newspaper reported the sheriff’s actions. Under the light of exposure, the sheriff’s office resumed providing daily reports.

The sheriff didn’t say “fake news” but probably would have if it had been popular then. He said he didn’t see anything wrong with what he’d done, either the vacation or withholding news. His failure to understand honest public duty is probably why, when he resigned, he had to agree to never seek public office again.

Newspaper readers can remember other stories uncovered and printed by local newspapers, despite the efforts of local leaders to silence them. Like the time that four of seven members of a school board decided to take a trip to the national school board convention in Clark County, Nevada. The local newspaper reported that Clark County includes the Las Vegas Strip, and that school board members’ spouses had gone with them, paid for by taxpayer money. Not only that, but the school board had not attended conventions in decades.

Fake news? No, just really inconvenient facts. Board members reimbursed taxpayers for the trip their spouses got.

Besides the printed news media, what other source of information has reported the current ongoing battles over wind power? Or confined animal feeding operations? Who else would go to the home of a county official who had resigned without saying why, and would then print his confession of missing money and malfeasance in office?

But today, the highest people in national government are calling us “the enemies of the people.”

Hardly. We are their enemies if they’re involved in wrong-doing or malfeasance. The only weapon we have to help our readers fight that is the light of the truth we try to find and print.

There are the stories of Nixon and Watergate; Clinton and Monica Lewinski; Trump and his extra-marital dalliances; all of which would have been covered up if the press hadn’t reported.

For the current president of the United States to accuse “the media” of being “fake news” is alarming, degrading and insulting. Small, community-minded newspapers take particular offense to this. Even with small staffs, journalists at small-town papers strive to cover as much as possible and make sure their readers are accurately informed.

Citizens turn to a local newspaper to read the truth about what’s going on in their neck of the woods. Reporters spend countless hours covering school board meetings and town council meetings, and listen when individuals have concerns about a particular policy or issue. They sit in the stands or bleachers at sporting events, cheering on the home team just like anybody else.

We are not in the same category as social media, where unfiltered fake information is put up in the disguise of real news.

If you believe, as we do, that having accurate information is the key to making good decisions, then you should subscribe to newspapers. As our teachers used to say in current events classes, read newspapers. Get your news from many different sources. Among the most trustworthy are your local newspapers.

We report the good, the bad and the ugly. We are unbiased, fair and accurate. To say otherwise is, itself, fakery.

– The Connersville News-Examiner, The Shelbyville News, The Courier-Times