Newspapers have always been crucial for democracy. 

Newspapers have a long, and important, legacy as the Fourth Estate. 

Newspapers provide an independent check on government. 

A world, a nation, a state or a community without a newspaper that keeps its eye on government is less free, less democratic, less informed, with a government that is less representative and a people that are likely overtaxed. 

In this edition, we are sharing a guest column written by our colleague, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer Jeff Gerritt, editor of The Herald in Sharon and the New Castle News, both in Pennsylvania. His column is about a local mayor in a small town in Pennsylvania who wants to kick a reporter out of city council meetings because she doesn’t like the coverage in the newspaper. Of course, that won’t happen. That can’t happen, at least not legally. 

People in power are not always going to like reporting, especially when they are being held accountable. 

Do you think Richard Nixon liked the reporting on Watergate? Do you think the Johnson administration liked the reporting around the Pentagon Papers? Do you think the Boston Archdiocese liked the reporting uncovering molestation by John Geoghan and the coverup by Cardinal Bernard Law and the Archdiocese? 

Whether it is covering controversies in a local election, the firing and hiring of high school football coaches, rezoning of a rural community, or open records and meetings violations by government agencies, the local newspaper provides important, valuable information while serving as a public watchdog. 

In addition, there are tons of stories in the newspaper about positive things happening in our schools, great work being done by nonprofit agencies, coverage of plays, concerts, festivals and community events, sports coverage and also the good public service provided by local government. 

The newspaper does all these things and more. While those in power may not like accountability reporting or agree with editorials, imagine what a community, or more specifically a government, would look like without a newspaper keeping an eye on it? 

As Gerritt writes in the guest column, the Pennsylvania mayor needs to just do a better job of doing her job and let the newspaper do its job. 

 

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