Home » OPINION » Columns » ALAN TURNER — Newspapers and our American heritage

ALAN TURNER — Newspapers and our American heritage

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

– Thomas Jefferson



As we approach another 4th of July, it would be good to pause for a few minutes in our busy lives and reflect on all of the privileges and freedoms we enjoy in America. It’s certainly a sad thing that these benefits are absent in so many nations, and how many people in the world live under ruthless control from some form of autocratic government.

One thing I’d like to especially reflect on is the role that newspapers have played for the past 250 years in helping to protect and defend the liberties we have all too often taken for granted. In a real sense, newspapers have been the “guardians of the gates” of the American way of life, shining the light on those who would seek to corrupt and remake the nation in their own image.

Newspapers have been there for their communities, covering city halls, county and state government, and the massive bureaucracy of the federal government. Through the years, newspapers have helped to right many wrongs, and bring the deeds of the corrupt to the attention of the people. All Americans have shared in the fruits of newspapers’ labor.

But as important as this mission has been, that’s not all that newspapers have brought to the nation. Newspapers have covered everything from Little League games to garden parties to business start-ups to schools to churches, and on and on. Newspapers have been one of the foundations of their communities, and the people who work together at newspapers have been caring neighbors in those communities.

Today, newspapers are facing the greatest challenges in our history. Thanks to the juggernaut known as the Internet, information has been shattered into millions of pieces. And make no mistake–many of those pieces are not good for America. The late Newton Minnow, commissioner of the FCC, once referred to television as a “vast wasteland”. What in the world would he have thought of the chaos that is the Internet?

Please don’t mistake me here. The Internet has brought many wonderful things to our country and our people, and it provides instant access to many things that would once have taken days or weeks to gather. But for all of the good, there is also a dark side filled with scammers and jammers, hackers and thieves, crooks and philanderers, and many who would revel in the collapse of our nation.

Because of this ocean of restless and often malevolent content, our nation needs newspapers today more than ever before. There is a simple fact in play here. Even now, even this very day, if you look through many of the so-called “news sites” on the Internet, you’ll find that the lion’s share of serious and in-depth reporting and news is still created by—–yes, by newspapers. Leave newspapers out of the game and you have a mishmash of tripe. Endless stories about the Kardashian family and other “celebrities”. Stories about the latest video games. Hype disguised as “news.” Endless spin. This is not the kind of content that will keep us as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Newspapers have committed great resources to being a part of the digital world, and today, through a combination of print and digital media, the simple truth is that newspapers are reaching far, far more people than at any time in our history. Despite this,we have watched as our key sources of revenue have diminished at an alarming rate in recent years, because too many of the younger folks who work in ad agencies and marketing departments have siphoned money away from newspapers and directed that money into all manner of “internet marketing” options. Simply put, it all gets fragmented into more and more, smaller and smaller pieces. And newspapers have “taken it on the chin,” so to speak.

It’s very important to realize a simple fact here. Newspapers continue to carefully vet their reporters and editors. When you read a “blog” from some unknown source, you cannot really know whether the author of that blog is a 16-year-old kid sitting in his parents’ basement somewhere, gleefully concocting all manner of “news” to share with an unsuspecting audience. On the other hand, when you read a newspaper or visit a newspaper website, you can KNOW that those who generate that content have been thoroughly vetted, that they have the requisite education and skills and experience to cover important stories, and to report the facts in a trustworthy and reliable manner.

Those of us who have given our lives to newspapers love what we do. We believe in our mission, to deliver relevant and important content to our audiences. We understand what’s at stake if we cease to do our jobs. We’re committed. But we can’t do it all for FREE. Newspapers are businesses, with payrolls to make, bills to pay, and commitments to meet.

Today, more than ever before, newspapers need and deserve your support. We stand even today as an important guardian of this grand old republic of ours, and all that it means for each of us.

I would ask that you think about these things before you cancel a subscription or an advertising schedule. We need your support more than ever before, if we’re going to continue doing our jobs.

For now, let us all be truly grateful that we are Americans one and all, that we still live in the greatest country on earth, and as we celebrate the Fourth, let us resolve to preserve and protect what this nation stands for.

» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.


… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

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