Aly Colon has 30 years of experience in journalism, has taught at the Poynter Institute and now is lead writer/editor for an IT consultancy.
An important value that newspapers bring to people involves faith — a faith that newspapers care about people’s welfare. Newspapers represent the cumulative concerns people have and show them on a daily basis what those concerns look like — what’s being done about them and what should be done about them.
Another important value is community. Newspapers stand in proxy of the community as a whole. A newspaper mirrors their fame, their futility and their future. It unites them even as they divide — bringing contrasting views into the public arena and forcing people to confront and contend with them.
Finally, country. What other vehicle has shown its dedication to the value of country more than newspapers? They served as the instruments of imagination, insurrection and inspiration that played a significant, if tumultuous, role in the emergence and evolution of our country.
This is not to say newspapers are perfect, conscientious, and always caring in their approach to communities. They — like the people who own them, run them, and work for them — house an imperfect, contentious and at times irascible tribe. Newspapers commit sin, just as much as any other entity or individuals of flawed and incomplete understanding.
But, at their best, newspapers can offer a table to which all can be invited: to talk, to eat and to educate. And as we move toward an increasingly fragmented world, one must wonder where all of us can assemble together to share the pain and the pleasure that comes from being a community.