Journalism matters now more than ever in your community

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An industry often maligned in the national narrative these days pauses to celebrate its history, its purpose and its relevance during National Newspaper Week.
The Aurora News-Register is among the thousands of newspapers nationwide competing for an audience that consumes its news and information far differently than it did just a few years ago. In fact, newsprint may not be the medium of choice for many Americans, though particularly at the local level there remains no reliable alternative for fact-based reporting.
There have been numerous examples over the past year alone where Hamilton County citizens wanted, and needed, facts and information on a particular topic. As heated as the discussion has often been, there was usually no other media at the board meeting or public hearing other than ANR reporters. Facebook posts may have launched a discussion, though there was often something missing, something vital to better understand the issue, the options, and the impact facing local citizens.
Admittedly, I have ink running purely through my veins, having grown up in a newspaper family and spent my entire professional life sharing stories and documenting news of the day. It’s emotional for me, and my colleagues around this office, the state and nation, to play a role in connecting our communities in some way.
Our job has always been to help readers recognize the challenges of today and turn them into the tomorrow’s opportunities. Newspaper reporters and editors use different tools toward that end these days, with Twitter, Facebook and websites at our fingertips, but the core process of being at the scene to get information from the source and share it with the community, unfiltered, remains the same.
Newspapers have always been better at telling your story than telling our own, as a whole. Yet this is your story, too. Quite honestly, dear readers, I’m concerned about our precious republic for there is no freedom without a free press.
Regardless of how you voted in 2016 or where your political alliances fall, President Donald Trump’s all-out assault on journalists is not healthy. When he calls the media the enemy of the people and says the news they report is fake, he is crossing a line. Government officials have always challenged reporters to get it right and present the story straight up, without spin, but for Trump to paint all journalists with one broad stroke is irresponsible and even dangerous to an open and free society.
Perceptions of journalists and journalism have changed, in my opinion, even at the local level. What I would invite readers to do this National Newspaper Week is become more mindful about where they get their news and information. It matters.
The best source for news in and about Hamilton County remains your hometown newspaper.
Kurt Johnson

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