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Are We Getting Worse?

July 11, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Recently, I was looking through some old newspapers and came across the following editorial in the Palo Alto Reporter, Saturday, June 19, 1875:

"Are We Getting Worse"

"Is journalism deteriorating? Is it true, as claimed by many, that the quality of our circulating literature is becoming less adapted to the purpose of enlightenment and education that it has been? If this be true, there certainly must be a cause, and that cause must be, in a measure, because of the partisan uses to which the press is subjected. Secret rings, and silent organizations are seeking to become the ruling forces of the land. Circles of power, working cross purposes for a common object, are beginning to control the governmental reins, and the press is not free from their contaminating influences.

When a newspaper loses its independence, and truckles to favor, then is its general usefulness departed. Like the old story of the man, boy and ass, in their efforts to please everybody. They are too apt to find in the end that they have pleased nobody, and made themselves appear ridiculous. What can be thought of an editor, who, after racking his brain and wasting the night oil over what he considers a masterpiece, is compelled by the judgment of half a dozen interested wire-pullers to consign his document to the flames. The fact is, by systems of coarctation, the editorial standard is deteriorating and journalism making a steady movement downwards.

When the press, that should be free, is fettered, and shorn of its power to do good by being warped to a-say-nothing policy, what hopes have we for the arrival of the millennium."

I have no idea who wrote this at the time nor am I aware of the event or events that led to the writing of this article in 1875. What caught my attention with this article is the fact that today, there are many entities that try and control what is written and published. At any given time, one can turn on the television, radio or open a paper and find something in the news that fits this article. I believe, as they did in 1875, that there are forces at work today trying to control what is published and printed.

The Framers of the Constitution gave us the First Amendment, which states, "Congress shall make no lawabridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Our Founding Fathers saw value in the inherent principle of freedom of the press: the search and attainment of truth, scientific progress, cultural development and strength of community to check upon self-important politicians.

Although the meaning of the First Amendment is unclear as to what the freedom of the press exactly meant, today, the people of the United States expect and should demand accurate reporting of events of our governing bodies.

This is also the beginning of what will become Open Meeting Laws. The following is a quote from Thomas Jefferson, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government," as well as this quote from Patrick Henry, "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."

We as citizens of the United States need to demand accurate reporting which is accomplished only with open meeting at local, state and federal levels of our country. Inaccurate reporting can only damage and tear apart our great nation.



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