A Quick Opinion: Support a free press or learn to live in the dark

“Just because you disagree with a story doesn’t make it fake news; it is just news that you don’t like or agree with.”
A collection of newspapers. Photo by Matthew Keys

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Amendment 1. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Two weeks ago, at the urging of the Boston Globe, over 300 newspapers published editorials supporting the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and a free press. When someone mentions a free press I think of newspapers, but that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. I’m not sure where people get their news from, but there are many media sources available to all of us at the tips of our fingers. The traditional sources, like newspapers, magazines, radio or the televised nightly news, are just a small part of what people are being bombarded with, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I liked the Fox News’ slogan, “We Report, You Decide.” It let listeners decide for themselves what was newsworthy even if it had a bias to the right. But you knew that when you turned on Fox. The same can be said of CNN or other left leaning stations, but the stories weren’t made up, just reported from a different point of view. I hate the term fake news, especially when spoken by someone who just doesn’t like the story. Just because you disagree with a story doesn’t make it fake news; it is just news that you don’t like or agree with. The internet is a different story. My email is full of forwarded “stories” that are just made up. I like to fact check the stories and reply to the sender that the story is just not true. I guess they think that if you repeat something enough times it becomes true. A lie is always a lie even if you believe otherwise. The earth is not flat, but the Flat Earth Society has both a web site and a Facebook page. Back to newspapers. As you know, I love road trips and I try to buy a local paper wherever we stop. I like to see what the locals are debating, or which community projects are on the drawing board. The letters section is usually the best part of the paper, right behind the police report. The obituaries are a must read, as are the sports stories. There are times when I’ll ask the hotel receptionist where I can pick up a local paper, and their eyes turn down and they tell me that their local paper went out of business. They never smile when telling me the news. It has been tough times for newspapers, with advertising revenue being siphoned off by the internet. There have been mergers, closures and limited publishing days, but readership has been a bright spot. People still like to read newspapers. That might mean holding a paper in your hands while you have your morning coffee or reading it on your computer, or phone, while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. I want to think people still believe what they read in newspapers. We are only human, and we do make mistakes, and we all have our biased way of thinking, and writing, but we believe in our communities and try to make them a better place to live. I can’t imagine living in a community that doesn’t have a newspaper, and I’ve been lucky to have lived in Winters and worked at the Express for over 40 years. I must admit that when I read that the Winters High School Varsity Baseball Team went 30-1 this year, I had to do a little fact checking, but it turned out to be true. No fake news here. Support a free press and have a good week.]]>

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