The purpose of journalism is to inform the citizens of happenings within their world or community. Informing truthfully, without reporting dubious items that edge towards gossip, yet at the same time not ignoring important issues that citizens should be made aware of.
In the current age of national news, radio and television are owned by giant national corporations and generally overlook the news that matters to people who live in small communities. So too daily newspapers tend to be aimed at a state or even national audience, and at best only report local news that matters to those who live in the big cities where they are published. That leaves small local papers to do most of the heavy lifting in regards to local news. The small-town paper has a primary responsibility of keeping the citizens of small towns like LaFayette informed and educated about local events.
Unfortunately the people of LaFayette and Walker County are given only one option for local news, and that option is an underfunded and understaffed newspaper owned by a company two counties away that has priorities other than informing or educating. Not that it’s the paper’s fault, they do the best they can with what they have – unfortunately they don’t have very much. And what they do have is very restricted because of concerns that anything potentially “controversial” might cost the paper one of its subscribers or few remaining advertisers.
That position is understandable – if the difference between you having a job next week or not was all based on one grocer or car dealer not getting mad at you, you’d be very careful about everything you said or did about them or about anyone who might be related to them, attend their church, vote in their political party, or whatever else. So the wisest choice is to do nothing – just tell about crimes, quote the politicians verbatim, and (God forbid!) don’t say anything negative about the schools or churches. That’s the safe choice, the choice that keeps paychecks coming in so the kids can eat and the gas tank stays full. It’s the smart, safe, comfortable choice.
This doesn’t just stop with the newspaper. Others within the community who censor themselves to preserve peace: Preachers, business owners, teachers, and (especially) politicians don’t pick up the truth and run with it the way they should. They don’t because they want to keep their kids fed too, and the positions they take (mostly don’t take) work well to preserve unity and keep them employed within their respective careers.
But their safe choices have consequences. Because of their failure to stand up for the truth even when the truth hurts, we live in a community that is, at best, poorly informed about what’s happening within itself. We are a populace that has for the most part received no real information from or about its local governments, schools, and churches – except for that little bit deemed free of controversy.This Web site is about changing all that to create real change in a place dying from the continual application of status quo.
“Lets all get along” is the motto, and avoiding controversy has done well for much of the community. Things go along as normal, nothing changes, no strife or disunity. The status quo, the standard operating procedure. Life goes on, time passes by, but nothing ever really changes. And that’s all great – if your life is great. If you’re upper-middle-class, have a nice place to live, retired, maybe a doctor or lawyer or a minister. But for the three-quarters of people of LaFayette not in that situation, change would be a welcome thing. In a place with record-setting unemployment, widespread spiritual / emotional poverty, a school dropout rate flirting with 50%, weekly incidents of arson and child abuse, and an insane drug problem, the status quo is the last thing we should be striving to preserve. If the current condition of this community is the end result of unity and “lets all get along” then we should all be in favor of disunity and not getting along anymore.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus didn’t say “and I know the truth but I’m keeping it to myself because it might be controversial.” No, He knew the truth, He saw through the lies and the confusion and the thousand years of tradition and knew that all of humanity was heading for hell unless people changed. He laid it out, told them what was going on and showed the right and the wrong. It caused people to stop getting along with each other, it disrupted the community and resulted in major disunity within the established church. It also cost Him – not his job, but His life.
And we’re better off because of it.
Christ didn’t go around intentionally picking fights with people, He didn’t cause controversy for controversy’s sake, but he also didn’t back down from a verbal battle or hold back His message to protect people’s feelings. And that, in essence, is what this is about. Saying what needs to be said, flipping over some rocks, in hopes of bringing a little light back into this community before it completely dies.
…more coming soon.