Ray Rivera From the Seattle Times on Supporting Your Local Newspaper

The managing editor of the Seattle Times wrote about the challenges of covering the news in Seattle during a pandemic and George Floyd protests. He concludes with asking people to subscribe to the Seattle Times. This blog supports the free press and asks if possible can you subscribe and support your local newspaper?

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”

Benjamin Franklin

“When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.”

Christopher Dodd

“The liberty of the press is essential to the security of the state.”

John Adams

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

These are difficult days for journalism. The erosion of the local press and the rise of false news sources pose a challenge to our democracy and way of life. When Thomas Jefferson was the Minister to France he once sent a letter to Edward Carrington during the Constitutional Convention. In that letter Jefferson wrote about the need for newspaper and the free press. “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.” Jefferson makes clear that he would prefer newspapers with a government because a government without checks in balances leads to tyranny. Human nature drifts that way. 

The writer of this blog has a deep affection for the press and uses newspapers when he writes about the problems and issues of religion. I myself have several newspaper subscriptions and support the free press. My subscriptions include the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Boston Globe and New York Times.  The local press is most needed in this era. The local coverage of city and state government as well as local events is most threatened. Local press is where you get your coverage of events in your community or high school or college sports. 

Earlier today I saw something that Ray Rivera sent out to readers of the Seattle Times. Ray is the managing editor of the Seattle Times. In an article Ray wrote about the  challenging times that exist for news coverage in Seattle. He described how the newspaper is working during the COVID-19 pandemic and also covering the George Floyd protests as well. After discussing all the issues he asks people to consider subscribing to the Seattle Times. This blog would like to take this a step further. If you read this article can I ask you to subscribe to your local newspaper? Whether you live in Seattle, Des Moines, El Paso, Pasadena, Milwaukee or Pittsburgh the future of the local media is in your hands. Its tied also to the future of this country. Thomas Jefferson understood how important the local press is and that is why he supported it. In order to keep the American experiment moving forward the free press will always play a role in that effort. Its what the founding fathers envisioned – a responsible and educated electorate who manages the affairs of government. But it all starts with local papers such as the Seattle Times.

Like many of you, the coronavirus pandemic has forced us to change the way we work. Our 155 journalists have left the newsroom for makeshift offices in their kitchens, bedrooms and basements.

But we haven’t slowed one bit.

We continue to ask the tough questions about our region’s response to the outbreak. We are closely documenting and exploring the social movement that has mobilized in response to the police killing of George Floyd. We are capturing the rich visual history of not just a city navigating a pandemic but also the groundswell of protests that have filled our streets. And we continue to provide resource guides and tips to stay healthy, along with stories of inspiration and investigations that hold the powerful accountable.

Our colleagues who keep our printing presses rolling, deliver our papers and maintain our business operations — they haven’t slowed either, even while retooling how they work to keep themselves and our customers safe. And readers have responded, flooding our website like never before and fueling our efforts with notes of encouragement. In 25 years of journalism, working at all levels of this industry, I’ve never seen such overwhelmingly positive support from readers. 

To me, forging a connection like that with our readers demonstrates the value of a locally owned news organization. We’re here, taking calls and emails from readers who are scared about exposure at work, grief-stricken because they’ve lost a loved one, grappling with questions about racial privilege, angry about our government’s response to the demonstrations or the tactics of some the protesters, delighted by helpful neighbors. We hear you because we are you.

Of course, we also rely on subscribers like you to help fund the work we do. As you know, the intense economic crisis brought on by the pandemic has hit local businesses hard, knocking out our other major source of funding: advertising. This means that your support is now even more critical to our ability to do this work for you. If you are able, we hope you’ll consider subscribing.

Thank you for subscribing to The Seattle Times.