The Grassroots Role Of The Press

This week we turn over this column space to a friend and colleague—a newspaper reporter, editor and owner spanning a 50-year career. Joseph F. Persinger penned this piece on the importance of locally owned, hometown newspapers. Persinger formerly worked for the Seymour Tribune when it was locally owned and owned the Brownstown Banner here in Jackson County.
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When train travel began to replace the big river paddle-wheelers, Mark Twain found himself out of work.
“I needed a job,” he said, “but I didn’t want to work, so I became a journalist.”
That’s funny, but in my experience it’s not true.
In 50 years as a journalist, I knew many, many reporters, photographers, and editors who worked hard and long hours for not much money to keep folks informed about things going on in their community.
Especially in smaller towns, most journalists I have known took very seriously their role as the eyes and ears of all those who were unable or unwilling to attend school board meeting, town council meeting, court news, groundbreaking ceremony or other community events.
They knew their reporting would become part of the local historical record, and they did their best to be as accurate as humanly possible.
They kept citizens informed about how their tax dollars were being spent, who was being hired for county or city jobs or construction projects, and whether public business was being conducted in an open and honest manner.
That responsibility hasn’t changed and is still being fulfilled by legitimate news gathering organizations in towns and cities all across America.
We should all be thankful that, so far at least, we still have a free and independent Press.