The Lifeblood of Our Democracy
There is something special about my editorial today. Last week’s edition of the Crescenta Valley Weekly marked its 10th anniversary of being our community’s local newspaper. This is a significant achievement, not just for this paper, but for something even greater, something that is at the core of our society.
The free exchange of ideas and opinions, of fact-based independent reporting and the ability to illuminate issues from the world stage to the local are not only what ushered in the founding of our nation but are the breath that has kept it alive all these years.
Since first being elected as your state assemblymember in 2016, I have been given the privilege of writing 30 opinion pieces in this paper, this being my 31st. These op-eds have given me an opportunity to explain my perspective and to explore topics in-depth with the people of our district. In response to every piece that has been published, members of our community have reached out to me to share their own thoughts, perspectives and ideas – starting a conversation and shaping the way I make decisions as a legislator.
I cannot express enough how crucial it is to the health of our democracy that we have platforms where opinions are expressed and ideas explored. However, local papers provide a unique and crucial service: local reporting. Without in-depth coverage of local government, neighborhood events, small businesses, nearby crimes, deaths and opinions – all that happens around us while we go about our daily lives – we are a population left in the dark about our neighbors and our community.
How do we make decisions about who to elect as local officials? How can we follow their decisions and hold them accountable? How do we understand the bills and taxes we pay? How can we truly know about our community and its residents without having the light that local journalism shines?
Local reporters are the people in a community who truly have their thumb on its pulse. They go to every government meeting and attend community events. They take an up-close look at our life. Local reporters follow the types of stories and occurrences that greatly impact our lives, but that often go unnoticed without reporters’ watchful and attentive eyes. From this fact, it is easy to conclude that the role of journalism, especially local, is woven into the fabric of our society. When journalism is in decline, so too is the health of our democracy.
It is a shame that local papers have been dying out for nearly two decades. Year by year, across the nation, communities lose this vital light when local news outlets fold. Without local newspapers, it becomes harder to stay informed and to maintain civic transparency. Without local papers, it’s harder to maintain the community spirit and unity that local papers promote.
Fortunately, we have the Crescenta Valley Weekly. Because of the work of this paper, we better understand local issues, ordinances, legislation and public safety. This paper plays a pivotal role in the Crescenta Valley’s trademark spirit and togetherness. This paper doesn’t miss a beat highlighting the good that the people of our community do, the hard work of our small businesses and the academic excellence of our students. As a result, we all live fuller and richer lives.
It is disheartening that many communities in our state do not have the same resource. In the coming legislative year I will be exploring ways to help encourage entrepreneurs, like the ones who founded this paper, to invest in journalism. I’ll seek to understand how we can support existing local papers. If you have thoughts and suggestions, please reach out to my office and share your ideas.
I would like to close with a heartfelt “thank you” to the Crescenta Valley Weekly. In an age where journalism has been on the decline you have navigated countless challenges and thrived. This paper is a model example of local journalism and the incredible gifts such an institution brings. Ten years is quite an accomplishment and, for the sake of our community, I hope this paper, and others like it, last for decades to come.
As always, I want to hear your thoughts. What do you think about the value of local journalism? What solutions do you think I could put forward to help not only keep journalism alive but grow it? Please feel free to reach out to me through my district office in response to these, or any other matters, by phone at (818) 558-3043 or by email at Assemblymember.Friedman@Assembly.ca.gov.