What impacts your daily life? Is it the potholes or maybe the heavy traffic to and from work? How about the upkeep on the park trail you take on morning runs? Maybe it’s a new policy being proposed by your child’s school.
Why are your property taxes going up? What will it take to open a dog park in town? And why is recycling more difficult after all these years?
On any given day, reporters from news organizations like the Chagrin Valley Times are attending public meetings where they listen intently, ask pertinent questions and report back to you with answers.
We are there when you cannot attend, so we are your eyes and ears. We go to the most mundane as well as the most emotionally charged public sessions in your communities. We talk to elected officials and other representatives to present all sides of an issue. When expert opinions are needed for clarity, we find them and report back to you.
For every news issue, we welcome and print your letters regardless of whether your opinions have a particular political leaning. We do this to promote a balanced and robust community discussion, which is central to the free speech that strengthens our neighborhoods.
Coverage of community news has never been more important than today. Community papers in many cases are the only source of news and events that directly impact your family.
When the Geauga Park District board eliminated the public speaking portion of meetings, we were there for the environmentally-minded residents who needed a voice.
Our coverage alerted Solon residents to a plan for a sprawling multimillion-dollar development with a hotel, restaurants and a laundry list of other amenities in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood that ultimately led to residents flooding council chambers.
We chronicled the plight of local school districts trying to balance budgets, and we found out why poorly timed signal lights were triggering gridlock in downtown Chagrin Falls.
Our coverage and your responses are guaranteed and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that says Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
But news organizations are facing tough times. A recent Pew Research Center study found that total daily newspaper circulation dropped about 10 percent over the past year. Advertising revenues have gone down nationwide and the cost of newsprint from Canada, our main paper source, is rising due to tariffs ranging from 8.4 percent to 20 percent, which was recently affirmed by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
We also face a crisis of understanding. When President Donald Trump calls the press “fake, fake disgusting news” and “the enemy of the people,” he is wrong, and he is putting our constitutional guarantee of free speech and a free press in jeopardy. This is true for news organizations on both the national and local levels.
New businesses in town, car accidents, election results, high school sports all are examples of real news. When someone calls the news “fake” simply because they don’t like what they read, they are trampling on your first amendment rights.
We are indeed your lens into your community. We are not your enemy. Unlike some posts on Facebook and other social media sites, we verify our facts before publication. We are not anonymous. We stand by the veracity of our work.
Today we join newspapers across the country in affirming our mission to be a guardian of democracy and to arm citizens with accurate information so they can make smart judgments. The free press is the very fabric of a democracy. It’s what makes us the United States of America.
*This editorial is in conjunction with hundreds of papers across the country writing this week on the importance of the free press. To view a New York Times compilation of editorials from papers large and small, click here.