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'We're at work, not at war'

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Aug 16, 2018 at 2:48 PM

A recent study out of Notre Dame presented some interesting findings. I

It seems that in towns and cities in the U.S. where the newspaper has shut its doors, costs of running those cities have increased. 

The study saw an increase of between 30 and 60 basis points on local government bonds in both Denver after the Rocky Mountain News closed and in Cincinnati, following the closure of the Cincinnati Post.

The impact on the economy had nothing to do with the jobs or direct economic impact those companies had on their communities. It was because of the watchdog function they performed on city government.

When the newspaper goes away, government spending rises, corruption increases — nobody is there to keep an eye on it, so why not?

The point of this is journalism and the right of free expression matter.

Both currently are under attack — by the giant platforms that gobble up most of the available advertising revenue and are slowly coming around to taking on the roll of society’s censors, throwing people and organizations off their platforms for transgressions of vaguely defined rules and by leaders at home and abroad who now regularly cry “fake news” whenever anything unflattering about them is published, regardless of the reputation of the news outlet reporting it and the vast amount of evidence supporting the story.

Lately, this “war” has been amped up. Suddenly, not only is what news outlets publish “fake news,” but the people who work there are literally “enemies of the people,” just like the Nazis and Japanese in World War II.

It’s not a healthy situation for a functioning representative democracy and one that could easily lead to its demise.

The founding fathers knew this, that there was no way individual rights and liberties could be protected if no entity was keeping an eye on what government was doing and informing the citizenry about it. That’s why they enshrined the rights of free speech and free expression in the first amendment to the constitution. All other freedoms flow from that first one.

Today, the Reflector joins hundreds of newspapers across the country — more than 300 at last count on Wednesday — calling for an end to efforts to vilify journalism, not only before someone gets hurt, but before we reach a dangerous tipping point for our country. And we are closer to that tipping point than you might think. Alarmingly, already some 43 percent of Republicans, according to a recent poll, are of the opinion that the president should have the power to shut down any news outlet for whatever reason he comes up with.

That’s not how representative democracies operate; that’s how dictatorships operate.

At the Reflector, we consider ourselves your allies — not your enemies. Our goal is now, and always has been, to serve the interests of the people of Norwalk, Milan, Berlin Heights and Huron County, by celebrating their triumphs, alerting them to dangers around them and making sure the people elected and paid to represent them do so with the highest possible amount of transparency, honesty and integrity.

A free press and free expression are the necessary tools to accomplish that task and we’ll continue to defend those rights and speak out whenever they are infringed or threatened — not just for ourselves but for anyone.

“We’re not at war; we’re at work,” Washington Post editor Marty Baron said recently. At the Norwalk Reflector, we’re working on behalf of our readers and community. If you think we are your enemy, you have been misinformed.

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