West’s World: Support Democracy, subscribe
Former Ville Platte Gazette editor, Paul Kedinger, once described a community’s newspaper as “history-in-the-making.” He said it was “a recorder of the present, a critical examiner of the past, and a trained eye on the future.”
While I agree with Kedinger’s understanding of what a community’s newspaper represents, I would like to add to what he stated by sharing what I personally feel makes a newspaper most important.
Its greatest purpose in my opinion is the task a community newspaper has to be the “bridge” between government and the people.
Our founding fathers understood just that, and protected the press in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. Soldiers have defended, fought and died to protect the freedom of the press, and we should not let their efforts be in vain.
The soldiers who have sacrificed it all for this cause have allowed small town newspapers to connect people to their local officials, who I’ve always believed are the most crucial when it comes to determining what type of atmosphere we will live in. Those who govern closest to the people are the ones who ultimately have the greatest affect on the people. They are the ones who have the opportunity to directly either negatively or positively impact our every day lives.
Our local leaders will be the ones tasked with making sure the roads we travel the most are paved, that our drainage system operates properly, that trash is picked up, and that we can feel safe in our home, town and parish. Local leaders are the ones who will have a major affect on whether we have safe water to drink, nice parks to enjoy, and superb schools to attend.
The responsibility local officials have is exactly what makes a community newspaper, like The Gazette, more valuable to the people it serves than larger media outlets, such as television news and bigger state and nationwide newspapers.
I’ve attended plenty of council meetings across Evangeline Parish, police jury meetings and court proceedings for the last three years of my life and if there is one thing that has stood out the most to me it has been the fact that public attendance at these meetings are low.
This realization has shown me without newspapers like The Gazette the public would know very little about what is going on in their government.
There is only one news source that will cover every single council, school board or police jury meeting that takes place in a parish, and that is your local newspaper.
However as fewer and fewer people read a newspaper and younger generations grab their cellphones to read news on social media, I am realizing people are forgetting just what power lies in the press. A community newspaper can be a tool used to shine light on an ugly reality hidden deep in the files of some local governmental agency. And, when discovered, it is a community newspaper that will then report progress until the end.
So, while we as the media will record history throughout the pages of editions of The Gazette, never forget you, as the public, have the ability to shape history and you can use your local newspaper to do just that.
Remember as long as government exists, then so will a need for local newspapers. Therefore, to quote my favorite Louisiana Press Association bumper sticker, “Support Democracy, subscribe.”