The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution establishes the right of a free press for the “advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general,” the First Continental Congress wrote in 1774.
The framers of our Constitution understood there needed to be checks and balances between the government and the people, and charged the free press with this task. They also understood that with this “right” comes great responsibility to report the truth.
Fast forward 244 years and the connection between government and the media has changed — for the better and for the worse.
The nation once had an unbiased media that reported the facts and reserved its opinion for the editorial page. Today, we have newspapers, news networks and online sites that offer their own brand of the news, creating a disconnect between those who present both sides of the story and those who focus on one slant to reel in their like-minded audience to further their own agenda. This is where “fake news” and journalists being called “the enemy of the American people” was born. Straying from reporting the truth and all the facts on both sides has blurred the value and importance of the free press as established in the Constitution.
Newspapers like the Mount Vernon News are in the minority in our country, but we take the heat when national media fails to live up to our Constitutional responsibility to report unbiased, factual news. When that change in direction became obvious, terms like “fake news” and “enemy of the American people” were immediately integrated into the American vocabulary.
Locally owned newspapers are few and far between, and unfortunately, those numbers shrink year after year, leaving communities — like ours — without a voice, without someone questioning why or to help educate the public on the actions of local government or law enforcement.
Our readers might not like everything we report but that doesn’t mean that it’s fake news or that our objective is to be an enemy to anyone. We are simply doing our job reporting the facts to our readers. For over 180 years, Mount Vernon and Knox County has been served by the Mount Vernon News and our predecessor newspapers. This small fact is a hidden gem for our community and we are proud to continue the tradition of providing real, unbiased news to our readers.