Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom … of the press ….
Excerpting these words from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not intended to diminish the importance of its other provisions, but to highlight the value our Founders placed on the unique and vital role that newspapers played during the infancy of the young nation and its grand experiment with democracy.
The press — originally meaning printers of newspapers, pamphlets or books, but today also encompassing the many broadcast and digital media — is the only form of business that receives specific protection in the Bill of Rights. The Founders correctly recognized that the young nation would not survive in liberty without a free press to nurture and sustain it.
This week marks the annual observation of National Newspaper Week. We want to thank those of you who are reading this commentary for fully participating in the life of your community by being newspaper readers — whether in print or online.
More or less the following words have appeared in print here previously, but merit repetition:
The newspaper — this newspaper — has not forgotten what we were always meant to be.
We are the people’s. We are your free press.
We inform. We make you laugh. We make you angry. We share your joys and your pains.
We celebrate your marriages, your children’s births, their accomplishments, their graduations and their marriages. We mark your passing.
We let you know the score of the high school game and the vote total in the council election.
We provide glimpses at what is best about our community and warnings about what is worst. We offer our opinions, sometimes daring to take divisive, provocative or unpopular positions. And we welcome you to give your own views back to us whether you agree or not. And even our most blistering commentaries or stark exposes are always with a clear purpose of pushing the community toward its own betterment.
We are the only place on Earth where citizens of all portions of this county have a reasonable chance of seeing their names in print in any given edition three times a week. We unite with you in embracing life in Lincoln County, North Carolina, the United States of America and God’s green Earth.
We also embrace the solemn trust placed upon us by the Founders. We are sentinels who stand ready to sound the alarm, taking seriously our role as guardians at the gates of democracy. It is we who watch the watchers and keep those put in positions of power accountable. We believe that corruption will spread without check if we do not stay vigilant. We believe that democracy operating in the darkness is indistinguishable from tyranny.
So we invite our readers to think of themselves not merely as customers, but as full participants and partners with the Times-News, invested in Lincoln County, keeping informed about what’s happening and forming the opinions and plans of action that will be necessary to perpetuate local government by the people, for the people and of the people.