Even though The Agenda was our direct competitor I am sad to see them gone. Whenever a newspaper goes out of business it’s a loss for everybody. I am very proud of being able to celebrate SFGN’s 7th anniversary.
In fact, I look forward to another challenging seven years. It will not be easy.
Our first issue came out January 25, 2010 and the rest is history. It has been a thrill seeing this newspaper grow and become a credible, respected, voice of the community. This is due to the hard work and dedication of Norm Kent and Jason Parsley, our great staff and the support of our loyal advertisers and readers. But we also have to be realistic and face the challenges in front of us.
Many have been predicting the end of this format for years. The irreplaceable role of newspapers, to dissect, stimulate, expose, organize and analyze the public debate, is threatened by a free for all chaos. Some of the largest websites are aggregate news sites, meaning they simply pull news from other sources. Newspapers all over the world are suffering, or closing, and reporters are dwindling through downsizing. Who will dig up corruption, white-collar crimes, exploitation, abuse of minorities, political scandals, and big business cover-ups when there are no more reporters?
Who will listen to whistleblowers and question authority? Fact finding has been replaced by the hearsay of a blogger with a grudge. Editorials can stimulate thinking and generate proposals for progress, change and reforms. The founding fathers called newspapers "the market place of ideas.”
Politicians, business leaders, the Church, and now even terrorists, resent being exposed and would not mind seeing the newspapers go the way of the Long Playing records.
Napoleon once said: "I fear the newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.” Nowadays terrorists react to lines drawn on paper by pencils. On January 7, 2015 Islamic “Extrements” stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper killing 12 people. Al Qaeda repeatedly threatened “Charlie Hebdo” for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, among other controversial sketches, calling them blasphemous but at the same time ignoring the real pornography of how their religion treats women and gays.
Newspapers are the watchdogs for the public interest. There is a saying in Latin that goes: "Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?" – “Who Will Guard The Guards?” With the cacophony coming out of thousands of bloggers, or flimsy social media outlets, good critics and good reporters are an endangered species. Everybody is a blogger or a twitter and nobody reads anything of substance anymore. In the UK, The Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society, has branded the majority of online news as little more than "recycled 'churnalism.'"
For weeks now, Facebook has been questioned about its role in spreading fake news. The company, under mounting pressure, said last week that it had begun a series of experiments to limit misinformation on its site.
In this country many think that reading and supporting a newspaper is a thing of the past. Gov. Sarah Palin made it very clear that she did not read newspapers. Why should she? She can get all the news she needs from Tweety Bird. Not to be undone President Trumputin has repeatedly called the press "thieves and crooks." While major media outlets, reporters and other politicians have taken the brunt of Trump's attacks -- many wearing them as a badge of honor -- the Times also highlighted some of the more bizarre enemies Trump has made on social media. Trump has called the Times: “failing-sick-a disgusting fraud- a joke – dishonest - unfair and biased among other things. But in his manic schizophrenic way the only thing worse than negative coverage in The New York Times is not being covered at all.
The preservation of this invaluable freedom of expression tool has been successfully demonstrated in the European union where Governments have extended media support to all daily publications — regardless of the newspapers' political affiliations. While we take for granted all of our publications, gay rights activists in Uganda risked detention, violence and death threats for launching an LGBT magazine called Bombastic. Their aim was to “share the realities of being gay in Uganda.”
At SFGN we are trying to prove that it’s still doable. We have featured international, national and local news, entertainment and theater reviews, editorial columns, breaking stories, exposed crooks and injustice, made you part of all this by allowing your comments to be read by all as if it was an open forum. Yes, today we are giving ourselves a little pat on the back, seems self-serving but I like it!
We believe in what John Stuart Mill said: “if we silence an opinion, we may silence the truth.” Otherwise the landscape of America will soon resemble the 2007 movie "Idiocracy": a sarcastic comedy film where an average guy wakes up 500 years later and finds that everything has been dumbed down to the point that he is the smartest guy on the planet. Without doubt an uninformed and ignorant society is easy prey for dictatorship.
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 — Thomas Jefferson, 1787.
Happy 7th Anniversary SFGN!