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Apr-24-2006 09:39printcomments

`Daily` Duty: Community Service Constitutionallly Demanded

First Amendment Firmly Guides Journalist Efforts.

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(SALEM) - Ever since the Federalist Papers surely shaped the famed American Revolution, the purpose and duty of every American newspaper is undeniably clear to all concerned:

Community service is not only unavoidable for any commercial success, but is the demanded responsibility for every daily newspaper; fully protected, thus permitted to publish in-and-for our democracy.

The Founding Fathers added the now-famed First Amendment to solemnize that situation clearly by Constitutional-connection.

`Welcome back to duty demanded for community" is perhaps the wisest and kindest way to welcome what is written in The STATESMAN JOURNAL Sunday Editorial.

OR perhaps more simply-yet: `Welcome to the 21st Century, and its unavoidable realities of modern communication patterns and privileges; shaped by public demands and necessities as well as profit; IF you wish to continue in-this-business !"

What is painfully apparent in all Edit-points-covered today revealingly reflects that solid political statement: `Watch what we do -- NOT what we say !"

For most readers, relating to changes ever more obvious in the SJ, `it`s about time !" is the next idea popping-to-mind --as it clearly should.

Those gurus who gained monopoly control of our once-famed newspaper now realize readers are more reflective of realities than ever before -- at cost and consequence for those seeking profit from any approach to cut professional-production costs, however achieved.

Damaging, denigrating impacts on product and inevitable impacts on community responsibilities; constant staff-changes, continuous down-grading of professional working situations cause consequences in Salem as elsewhere.

Trends and traditions in American journalism are in head-on collision, with consequences felt wildly and widely consequential to revolutionary communications technologies so well described in this SJ-Editorial.

Gannet and other chains focused on advertising and dollars vs journalistic and community service face the inevitability to re-build on proven and potent local news and coverage of real issues,

Salem is no exception. It`s impossible to lay off the lasting effects of stock-price and ratio-of-return concerns against Wall Street, while smugly and snugly seeking solace by seducing public understandings of a 30-year record by promising realistic return to what should have been the pattern for all those previous years.

Who does not recall the `Wheeler-dealing" record of only a few years ago ? Manipulation overcame community conscience there, for sure.

The scurrilous political-campaign ad for a naive newcomer, backed by questionable funds from a known notrious political source -- and quoting an SJ attack-phrase statement on the very same day of an Edit-Page endorsement for the one-attacked ?

Money motivated that manipulation, you can be sure -- payment for the campaign ad out-ran concern for the obvious consequences on community confidence.

How many in our home-town have written strongly for one or the other of community-needed and demanded changes and choices, only to see `Guest Opinion" and `Letter to the Editor" disappear into the 6,000-or so statements lost in the limbo of too few column-inches, too little compassionate concern to publish them ?

Is there not even enough concern to publish a box-score `conscience report" -- as do other leading dailies truly concerned about the growning pressures on public-comment statement-space.

Presented with a G/O very recently, the response received rapidly --from this same Edit-room !!-- was: `That topic is now closed for further discussion."++ (That`s paraphrased but accurate summary of E-mail response.)

Why should ANY topic EVER be CUT OFF from citizen concern, properly presented, perfectly documented, detailed for further discussion ?

Then there are all those wasted-words wonderfully wangled up unrepented re obvious filler-issues...making it mindfully manifold that `the real tough ones" are too fearful to be fashionable, avoided easily by re-focus elsewhere -- no matter how inanely.

When error of meaningful proportion is detected and decent declaration to correct is demanded, what one gets is `more-of-the-same", seeking to cover cracks and chasms by delay and defeated- question.

So, friends at the SJ, welcome back to the New Century -- and we will be Watching What you DO after this resounding declaration of restored original-intent in The STATESMAN JOURNAL.


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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