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Opinion

A newspaper, not an echo chamber


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • Sep. 15, 2022 - 6:45 PM

A newspaper, not an echo chamber

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com

This month, our newspaper is working hard to get residents to subscribe or continue their subscriptions. So far, we’ve received some amazing results and positive feedback.

However, you can’t please everyone. But that’s the newspaper business for you.

One person said they refused to subscribe because we allow Letters to the Editor from viewpoints they don’t agree with. Oddly enough, they said they understand why we do it, but simply couldn’t financially support a newspaper that prints opposing viewpoints.

“There’s too much at risk,” they said.

Curiously, others have taken issue with our stories about gas prices, citing they're “propaganda.”

I never thought I’d see the day when a story about gas prices indicated a very distinct political line in the sand.

For the record, these gas price stories are essentially rewritten press releases we’ve gotten from AAA, which I’ve never considered a George Soros-funded left-wing think tank.

We’re more focused on what our local leaders are doing and how our community is changing. As for playing the blame game for gas prices, we’ll leave that to the cable news talking heads.

Because here’s the thing. We’re always going to have issues, and while a zero-sum approach to the solution might work well for TV ratings and “influencers," the results are simply unachievable.

It’s a well-known fact that “change begins on the local level,” and there’s nothing more local than yourself.

During a recent interview, Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rogers shared his thoughts on the ongoing divide in our country and how to heal it. Unsurprisingly, it starts with ourselves, not elected officials, grassroots movements or uprisings.

He said in order to come together as a country and come together as people and connect, "you have to listen to other people’s opinions, and a lot of times, opinions that you don’t agree with.”

However, the Internet has allowed us to find our “tribe” which mistakenly leads us to believe that we are entitled to exist in our own specific worldview. Those who would dare challenge those beliefs are deemed unfit for society.

We dehumanize those who think differently, casting them off as part of some fringe group rather than someone you might live next door to.

It’s “all or nothing.”

Rogers said that in order to test your own belief system, it has to be challenged.

But so many of us choose a comfortable echo chamber where we're repeating the same things, hearing the same things and locking in the same algorithms that give you the same opinion and belief over and over again.

"That’s how division happens because there’s zero room for people to connect and at least just listen to what you have to say,” Rogers said. "At the end of the conversation, it could be, ‘I respectfully disagree with that.’ Awesome, but at least you listened to it.”

Challenging your beliefs allows you to turn the opposition into an opportunity.

The idea that only a certain way of thinking is true and everything else should be disregarded is preposterous. When you can’t acknowledge another way of thinking, it doesn’t make your beliefs stronger. All ideas must be tested to ensure their validity.

Our country has a rich history of accepting new ways of thinking and doing things, and not a single political group or ideology has a monopoly on “the good ideas.”

Our world will never be how we want it. It’s just a simple fact. Many probably know this, so they settle for seeing their enemies upset. We’re more concerned with stopping our opponents than building something of our own.

Some people want to debate, others just want to be right, but everyone wants to be heard. And that’s why I find such joy working for a newspaper.

I want people to be heard, and I enjoy listening to people. I like hearing viewpoints I might not have considered and enjoy having my own beliefs challenged.

That’s why freedom of speech and a free press is crucial because if you agreed with everything we published, we wouldn’t be doing a good job.

This month, my goal is to get more subscribers engaged and involved with your newspaper than ever. Our newspaper is your newspaper, but it reflects everyone in our community.

For those who are up for the challenge of acknowledging other people's beliefs, we thank you and appreciate your ongoing support of our family-owned, community newspaper.

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com