American newspapers, journalists in dilemma

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By Vivian Blevins
Collaborating columnist

I subscribe to two newspapers a day, one local and the Dayton Daily New. I tried to get the New York Times shipped with some reliability, but I found that was not possible in Piqua, Ohio. My husband and I prefer printed versions that we can hold in our hands, and we prefer to receive the newspaper early each day so that we are informed. Of course, we receive news from other sources such as television; however, we despise television repetition and endless interpretation/commentary. And when an event occurs that requires us to have more information before the print logs arrive, I go online. We also subscribe to two weekly news magazines.

I was taught early on that some newspapers were more reliable than others, and when I lived in California and read Orange County Register and the Orange County edition of Los Angeles TimeI have regularly seen the differences in political orientations on the same stories.

Newspapers have always been criticized by the American public and demonized by politicians. They are going through a difficult financial period because some dailies are now weeklies while others have closed their doors. In addition, large companies have bought newspapers and reduced their staff, and the remaining staff are often overloaded with responsibilities.

The first multi-page newspaper published in what would become the United States was titled “Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick” and was quickly closed by the colonial government of the day after a single issue on September 21, 1690. Cited for the closing was “Reports questionable and uncertain.” The content included information about the alleged sex life of Louis XIV, which was sure to attract attention, as well as information about smallpox, a murder and Native Americans, both Christianized farmers and prisoners of war. who were executed.

We are once again in the midst of great unrest and divisions of opinion, but that is nothing new. As we fought for independence from Britain, there were American loyalists and patriots. And the civil war tore this nation apart in a way that left unhealed wounds. Today, many fear for our democracy as evil brews, some in the halls of Congress where misbehavior occurs for many of us.

As much as we want to be informed, most of us have jobs, family responsibilities, work to do in our communities, and obviously we can’t travel to our state capitols and DC to monitor what is happening with our government. We have elected representatives who we hope are carrying out the will of the people even as we watch issues we thought have been settled unravel despite majority opinion among Americans. We are willing to spend about an hour every day keeping up to date with what is happening locally, in our states and in our country, but we depend on easy access to newspapers and other media sources, whether urgent problems be infant formula, the war in Ukraine, climate change, gas prices, interest rates, the stock market, contaminated water supplies or the paving of roads and the repair of bridges in our immediate neighborhoods.

Those of us who write for newspapers, and I have for years now, were asked to respond to the 2022 Journalist Survey conducted by the Pew Foundation earlier this year. According to the results of the study, the words that relate to “struggle” and “chaos” were commonly used by respondents with the following concerns: “the future of press freedom, widespread misinformation and politically like-minded people who get news from the same sources.”

Journalists (71%) said that “news and made up information is a very big problem for the country”, and 42% said they had “been harassed or threatened by someone outside their own organization during the past year”.

In conclusion, I believe that the facts are the facts. When I watch politicians lie on television or when I read statements that some have made which I know to be lies with little objection from members of their own political parties, I am concerned for this riding, for the democracy.

In conclusion, if you have the time and are inclined to do so, please send letters to your local newspapers and/or call the offices of people who manufacture “news/information”, i.e., who tell lies, and express your disdain.

PS: Read the full report at https://www.pewresearch.org/2022/06/14/journalists-sense-turmoil-in-their-industry-amid-continued-passion-for-their-work/.

Vivian B. Blevins, former CEO of colleges in Kentucky, Texas, California, and Missouri, has a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. She currently writes a weekly column for Aim Media Midwest, teaches at Edison State Community College, and volunteers with veterans. His email is [email protected] The views expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these views or the independent activities of the author.

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