The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Freedom of the press is never your enemy


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Aug. 15, 2018 - 6:52 AM

“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”

Walter Cronkite, the stalwart voice of American journalism in an earlier time, spoke those words.

We in the newspaper industry never imagined that a significant number of Americans would question the need for a free press, or the role the press plays in our democracy.

For too many months, however, we have been largely silent while our vital role has been disparaged.

We are not your enemy.

We are not your enemy when we publish your child’s name on the honor roll, when we tell you that the church down the road is having revival, or when we let you know the fair is coming to town.

We’re also not your enemy when we tell you your taxes are going up, when we dig deep to find out whether governmental policies are being followed or when we tell you your neighbor – or your brother – got arrested.

“A free and independent press is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution,” says the News Media Alliance.

The First Amendment enshrines freedoms for citizens and for two non-governmental groups: The press and religious institutions.

Until now, political leaders of all stripes acknowledged the crucial role of the press.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Republican Calvin Coolidge observed, “Wherever despotism abounds, the sources of public information are the first to be brought under its control. Where ever the cause of liberty is making its way, one of its highest accomplishments is the guarantee of the freedom of the press.”

A few years later, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed similar thoughts. “Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.”

We are not an enemy of the people. We are the people.

We live here with you. We sit in the same church pews as you, shop in the same stores as you, enjoy the same parks and applaud the accomplishments of all our children.

It is our particular job to look at situations like homelessness and drug abuse, to ask tough questions, to report our findings and to let you – the reader – make your own decisions.

We seek to do all of this with fairness. The Newnan Times-Herald does not endorse candidates or have a partisan political stance; our agenda is to seek facts. We cover everyone and provide our readers with information to make their own decisions and choices.

The perspectives shared on our Opinion page have always ebbed and flowed with the changing of political climates, and should reflect the voices of our readership.

However, some news outlets do lean in one direction or another politically. That is their right, just as it is ours to choose to be focused on informing the residents of Coweta County – regardless of their political views.

For 153 years, we have been chronicling what happens in and around Coweta County. We’ve always aimed to be clear and accurate, and we will continue to do so – because we believe Coweta will be a better place if we do.