Why the American people still need newspapers

Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University and the founder of the 1 for All campaign for the First Amendment, in a guest column for The Tennessean:

It’s important to acknowledge newspapers’ past, but also to express concern about their future. […] too many view this as a business story about an industry struggling with change and technology. That’s shortsighted. If newspapers aren’t around – in print or online – tax dollars will be wasted, government corruption will be widespread and our collective quality of life will suffer.

Hear, hear.

The first generation of Americans demanded a free press because they wanted a check on government and protection for the Bill of Rights. That’s a big job, but newspapers have been doing it for the past 228 years.

I believe that most of America’s local dailies and weeklies will continue to serve their communities for years to come, but we can’t take that for granted.

All of us need to think about the high stakes facing a society without members of a free press maintaining a check on the powerful.

Read. Subscribe. Buy ads. And if you’re not inclined to do any of those things, go ahead and write a check to your local paper anyway.

Think of it as an insurance policy on the kind of country we want –- and need –- America to be.

I couldn’t agree more — and I put my money where my mouth is. I subscribe to two newspapers, and actually get them (at least the Sunday paper) in print. You should too.

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