Some call it public service, watchdog

By Chelle Delaney: QCS Staff

What’s the source of the sunshine?

Throughout this past week, Sunshine Week 2007, you may have heard about how Sunshine Week started with Sunshine Sunday back in 2002. And how the first Sunshine Week was in 2005.

You may have heard who supported it. That was the Knight Foundation and its publisher and editorial writer, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Jack Knight.

And you’ve probably heard about the man, James Madison, who wrote those words, 45 of them, that became the First Amendment.

But you may not have heard about the Newseum that will open in Washington, D.C., this fall.

It will have Madison’s words carved into a 50-ton, 74-foot-high piece of marble on its facade.

I read about all this and then remembered a question I thought about years ago, before we had the Internet working for us 24/7.

The question: What do you need newspapers for?

An ex-newspaperman, Walter Cronkite, said it as well.

He said the broadcast media “cannot supply the wealth of detail the informed citizen needs to judge the performance of his city, county, or state.”

That’s a newspaper’s job.

Some call it a public service, some a watchdog service – because our republic cannot continue to exist without an informed citizenry.
Thomas Jefferson once said if he had to choose between having a government without newspapers or newspapers without government … he would choose newspapers.

The point is in this country, we govern ourselves. And that means that each of us, every voting citizen, should know just what is best for this country.
Newspapers have an essential role in your world.

To help explain each of us to the other.
To help in recognizing the changing values that some of us have – and share those interpretations to the rest of us.

To help face issues and take the time to get to the heart of them. So that divergent parts of our society will, at least, understand and respect the opinions of others.

And, hopefully, rise above their special interests and desire the common good.
Years ago, it was said that journalism is “life reflected in ink.” Today, it’s also life reflected in ink, as well as pixels on computer screens, mp3 files in iPods.
All of us share one great problem. We are individuals … but we must live with others.

We must live with our parents … with other children … with other teenagers … with husbands or wives … with children of our own …with people on the job … and with people off the job.

More than 200 years ago, Alexander Pope wrote, “The proper study of mankind is man.”

You can read about it in the newspaper.

You are the reason that freedom of the press is so essential.

Yes, you are the reason there should be no darkness, no secrecy, but “sunshine” every day – in all media, including the 24/7 one, the Internet.

And, of course – in print or on the Internet – in the Quay County Sun or www.qcsunonline.com

Chelle Delaney is associate publisher of the Quay County Sun. She can be reached by calling 461-1952 or by emailing: chelle_delaney@link.freedom.com