NELSON: Freedom of the press should not be limited
One of the greatest tools of freedom known to free people is also one of the most taken for granted.It cannot be overstated that our local newspapers have been instrumental in the founding and preservation of our nation as a free society committed to the rule of law.
The free, impartial, and independent press has been the cornerstone and the hallmark of freedom distinctively unique to our nation and our history.
The success and freedom as a nation we have enjoyed for over 243 years would never have been possible without the hometown newspapers of record that have diligently and faithfully recorded and reported the local matters of public interest.
For many years now, that ever important public watchdog, our local newspapers, have been under siege. The information age is slowly eroding their readership. Our local newspapers’ marketability have been accosted on all fronts by the national news media, which is often perceived as pushing a political agenda and opinions irrespective of impartiality or adherence to facts. Complaints of journalistic malpractice, at the national level, have become commonplace. Meanwhile, here in South Dakota, we have been blessed as a norm with local newspapers that have collectively attempted to persevere in reporting the most important aspects of local Americana while competing against the Goliath national news media overshadowing their diligent efforts.
The real work of our free press is not in reporting on what is happening on the other side of the world, or in other states, but in the daily recording and reporting of the local details of our births, accomplishments, shortcomings, government meetings, and the passing of our friends and family.
I am known for being a tight-fisted conservative with your tax dollars; however, every time efforts have been brought to allow governmental bodies to stop publishing their actions in our local newspapers, in favor of self-publishing on the internet, I have militantly opposed such measures.
Freedom is not free, and allowing government to report what it wants on its own actions is a recipe for the tyranny we fought a revolution to escape, and which we have engaged in countless battles to defeat, at great loss of American lives.
It is imperative to our freedom to keep our local newspapers as the honest curators of information and watchdogs reporting on the many veins of government entities and how they spend your tax monies.
Our American idea of freedom of the press is not that all the facts will be sanitized or perfectly presented to the public in every reported newspaper article, but that an educated public will emerge from that free discussion and knowledge of matters of public interest that a free press provides.
The cheapest and surest way to ensure our continuance as a free society? Active involvement with your local newspaper and your support of them through recurring subscriptions. Because, as President Thomas Jefferson noted in 1786, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
For us to continue benefiting from a free press, we must have that press around to be free.
God bless and Semper Fidelis.