Local journalism is the lifeblood of a free democratic society

| 14 Mar 2022 | 05:05

To the Editor:

Local newspapers prove their value as hometown news outlets by ensuring the health, safety and functioning of a robust democracy. These local outlets are disappearing across America and with their loss goes one more thing that is the glue that holds a community together.

A free and journalistically sound press is the life blood of a free democratic society. Their mission is to properly inform and cover issues of importance to the citizenry they cover. Let us never take them for granted by diminishing them in any way. Calling them “fake news” or “enemies of the people,” just because certain people do not like the facts they present or the truthful accounts of the real world around them — has devastating effects on the bonds that unite us.

As we can see today in our troubled world, trying to diminish the free transfer of factual information is the first play in the playbook of autocratic leaders. If they can control the narrative and stop the free flow of factual information, then they can control what people think and destroy any opposition.

Autocrats depend on a confused, divided and uninformed citizenry. When only their propaganda is allowed, then the avenues for misinformation, hate and manipulation create conditions to allow for their power to grow and any meaningful opposition to whither.

That is why, present dictators of the world, Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Ali Khamenei of Iran, and so on - rely on controlling or seizing the free press/social media, suppressing or killing journalists, and creating chaos in the flow of information.

Autocrats of the past like Hitler, knew this and is why he eliminated his educated opposition and took control of all means of communication and education to ensure his hate filled propaganda flourished. Why do you think they had book burnings? They had to eliminate anything counter to their destructive ideology.

Today we see signs of this playbook in our own country, with wanna-be autocrats like Trump calling Putin a genius and once again demonstrating his affinity for the strong men of the world.

Nightly, actors of non-journalistic principles under the guise of “entertainment,” spread misinformation, and outright lies to further their mission to divide us and foment unnecessary conflict for what? Power, popularity, ratings, political domination, scientific deception or points on the board of the all important culture wars? If we continue on this destructive path where do you think this will lead us?

What happened to the art of debate or constructive argument? What happened to decorum in our political area? Actors like Rep. Lauren Boebert, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, heckling President Biden’s State of the Union address show just how toxic we have gotten in our political discourse.

Once we cannot talk to each other civilly or eliminate the free press that believes in journalistic principles, what are we left with? Only noise and destructive discourtesy.

Vito DiBiasi

Dingman Township, Pa.