This I Believe

Diane - Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in newspapers. They are an essential part of my daily life. They are a part of what enables me to be an informed and educated member of my community, this nation, and our world. Newspapers are also a foundational component of our democracy.

The very earliest recorded newspaper was the Roman Acta Diurna in 59 B.C; it only took a few decades after the development of the Gutenburg Press in 1436 for the forerunners of modern type newspapers to appear in Germany and then in America in the late1600s. I believe that communities, from the very beginning, inherently recognized the need to distribute vital information so that we human beings could successfully participate in life together. Our forefathers also understood this necessity and guaranteed freedom of the press in Article One of the Bill of Rights in the U.S Constitution.

Newspapers depend on that part of our democracy to protect their right to give me all the news of the world. Democracy depends on newspapers to survive. And with that critically important, necessary codependence comes an immense responsibility on the part of both. Newspapers must make themselves accountable to the public. They must give us all the news – the good and the bad. I don’t believe newspapers have always fulfilled that public service duty and when they don’t, their readers must take on the responsibility of speaking out. Likewise, our democracy should never falter in its obligation to foster freedom of the press.

I know the future of newspapers seems to be in jeopardy today. The younger generation is getting more of its news from other media sources. But those other media sources get the majority of their information and news from the newspapers. Yahoo, Google, bloggers, radio, television, and web sites nearly all depend on the newspaper. Those newspapers produce the in-depth, thorough investigative reports from which other media sources pick and choose. The other media sources recycle newspaper news in a very real sense.

I depend on my newspaper to give me the local news and then some. I need news from San Francisco, California to Williamsburg, Virginia, from Knittelfeld, Austria to Yeppoon in Queensland, Australia. And I have to say, that it does appear at times that Americans could certainly benefit from a bit more global illumination. That’s why I think newspapers are so important. They have the ability to shed that light in a way that is accessible to the common person everywhere.

I heartily believe that James Madison was right when he said, “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” Newspapers remain the optimal means of diffusing that knowledge.

There’s just something about newspapers. There’s just something about seeing the world through tangible prose. I believe newspapers put the world in my hands.