A Challenge –– (adapted from a letter to the editor of my regional newspaper)
Regional newspapers play a vital role in keeping the public informed and offering a forum for a wide range of opinion. Their task has been been made more difficult in recent decades not only because of competition with TV cable networks and internet publishers, resulting in erosion of revenue from subscriptions and advertising, but also because the country has become so politically polarized that many of the most newsworthy stories, even though they are reported truthfully and comprehensively, may be enthusiastically welcomed by one constituency and denounced by another with such intensity that the newspaper risks alienating sizable blocks of readers and advertisers simply by fulfilling its journalistic responsibilities.
As a result, owners of newspapers may be tempted to avoid expressing highly controversial opinions and shy away from publishing freely and fearlessly, calling out truth and lies for what, in each case, they are, because they fear that doing so could impair their ability to operate profitably enough to stay in business. In meeting this difficult challenge, newspaper owners should keep in mind the Washington Post’s motto, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Newspapers must shine light brightly no matter what.