voice for democracy

A week to remember why newspapers are important to democracy – Watertown Daily Times

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Celebrate your community forum with National Newspaper Week
Recently, this newspaper printed an editorial describing the importance of civics education in our public schools.
This week, we’re following up on that in honor of National Newspaper Week, Oct. 3-9, 2021.
This time our message is aimed at adult consumers of news. While we previously described the need to teach civics and history in school, this week we are describing the need for adults to practice civics and remain engaged in their communities.
But how do we do that with the escalating presence of social media, the mixing of talk radio and talk TV facts and propaganda to polarize us as a country? We need to start by being better — and critical — consumers of news both in our communities and in our own lives. Let’s begin with what media and propaganda currently being consumed. Doctors are fond of telling us “you are what you eat” in getting us to revise our nutritional diets.
This is the same thing: Many are allowing their minds to embrace ideas of hatred and polarization consumed from social media. Returning to our institutions like community newspapers allows for civil discussion and treating each other with respect.
To do this, let’s regulate our media intake, but getting rid of junk food, Like junk food, the ideological “news” infotainment complex and social media industry is fighting the diet of facts and critical news consumption. Brian Allfrey, executive director of the Utah Press Association, wrote in a recent column that a society of civil discourse is bad for business for a media outlet or social media group pushing a certain agenda.
In other words, Allfrey wrote, open-minded people are bad for their business. But we think it’s a little bit more than that. We need to embrace local newspapers again.
As Allfrey wrote in his column, the Unite States was founded on the ideals of freedom, tolerance and acceptance, where all men were created equal with fundamental rights.
In the early days of the United States, people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs worked together to create these ideas and frame them into a new country with liberty and justice for all. “They had many differences of opinion, but they compromised for the betterment of everyone,” Allfrey said. Today, compromise is a dirty word.
The founders understood that different ideas merged together can form a more perfect union — the United States.
As evidence, look at the Constitution. Imagine if the founders had intended the Constitution not to be a living, breathing document, but instead an inflexible recitation of ideals never to be deviated from.
The founders realized that as people change, their government should also. As Allfrey wrote, “the beauty of our country is that it should continue to evolve. America is a concept, a target for which we are striving.”
Turning away from social media and talk infotainment, community newspapers offer a community forum with important local information and the ability to engage local officials in community discourse.
The founders knew that each citizen had a civic duty to remain informed and acting to change their communities. The change starts with the Watertown Daily Times as your community forum.
Subscribe today, support local journalism and engage in activities that build up your community — instead of practices that tear us all down.
— Sun Prairie Star (with Watertown focus added)
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