Reflections on National Newspaper Week
This month, The Daniel Island News will reach a significant milestone in its history. We’ve been carefully compiling and delivering your community newspaper each week for the last 15 years — from our very first issue on October 30, 2003 to the one you are now holding in your hands (or reading digitally). That’s 758 papers chock full of news about the people, places, events and activities that make up the fabric of this special island town we call home. And we’ve carried our product to you faithfully week after week — despite record-breaking snowstorms, hurricane evacuations, economic recessions and other unexpected obstacles.
This week is National Newspaper Week (October 7-13), a time set aside to recognize the service of newspapers and their employees across North America. Now that members of the media are facing increasing scrutiny over what has been dubbed “fake news” in the political realm, it is especially important to reflect on the true purpose of journalism, both nationally and at the local level. As Bill Rogers of the South Carolina Press Association stated in a recent editorial on the subject, “Our founding fathers stood up for a free press and so should you. We need newspapers in our communities to monitor government spending, cover police activities and report on our utility companies. And to cover our community life: weddings, funerals, school news, sports and more. Newspapers are community builders and watchdogs, not the enemy. Cries of fake news and hate speech against journalists risk undermining our democracy.”
As a journalist myself, I consider it a privilege to hear and share your stories. And I thank you for the trust you have placed in me to do so. In my 13 years with the paper (11 years as a freelance writer and two as editor), I have met with hundreds of you to learn more about the issues you are passionate about, such as bike safety, traffic, school concerns, parks, business development, clean air, crime and more. I have covered a plethora of historic moments on our island and documented them on our pages – the grand opening of the community’s first public school (Daniel Island School in 2006), campaign visits of several U.S. presidential candidates to the island (2012), the island’s formal consideration of annexation into Charleston County (2014), and scores of campaigns and elections that placed many of our community members in local and state government seats. I have attended your school, athletic and community events to witness your performances and special programs. I have listened as you shared your experiences with beating cancer, overcoming paralyzing accidents, or raising thousands of dollars for causes close to your heart. All have been worthwhile and inspiring – not only to me, but to our readers.
So as we stop for a moment this week to ponder the theme behind National Newspaper Week — “Journalism Matters: Now more than ever” — may it serve as a reminder that what reporters, editors and all newspaper employees do each and every day all across this country in towns big and small is vitally important and needed.
As you flip through this edition of The Daniel Island News, know that much thought and consideration went into each page. Whether it’s a story about heartfelt conversations at open tables across Daniel Island and the Lowcountry (pages 16-17), pictures of proud local boy scouts earning new merit badges and important rank advancements (page 29), or a Daniel Island child’s reflections on her mom’s breast cancer diagnosis (pages 10-11) — journalism matters, because you matter.