Jason Lacy: News organizations are valuable part of community fabric
On April 14, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper proclaimed Colorado Journalism Week in order to mark the vital role that local news publications fill in our communities.
In the current digital age, where we are connected to news outlets from around the world by one punch on our computer keyboard or smartphone, it’s sometimes easy to forget that perhaps the most vital and impactful news information you can receive is from your local newspaper and radio. While it’s obviously important to stay abreast of news from around the country and the globe, the things that occur in our own backyard affect our daily lives in more obvious and meaningful ways.
With this premise in mind, ensuring that we support and promote our local news outlets is something that people from across the political spectrum should agree is vital to the proper functioning of a healthy democracy. Without the availability of robust local news coverage, it would be much harder for people not directly affiliated or engaged with local government to be informed about some of the most important decisions that are being made.
Moreover, without consistent and reliable local news coverage, it would be difficult for people to know when to reach out to local political leaders to share their thoughts and concerns about the direction that is being taken by local government. By supporting our local news outlets, it ensures that there is always a third party looking out for the interests of the community even when some people may not be paying attention to some of the seemingly mundane decisions being made by local government, which could have significant effects for many months or years to come.
I’m now in my third year as an elected official, and one of the common questions I receive is whether I am bothered by the news coverage of City Council issues. My answer is always an emphatic “no” because elected officials at the local, state and national level should only be willing to serve in those positions if they are willing to answer and be held accountable for all of their actions.
Elected officials should be held to the highest standards of performance and behavior because of the power and trust they have been granted. Simply put, without strong local news organizations, your elected officials would not be held as accountable as they should be for the actions they take. The importance of good local reporting simply cannot be overstated, and your local government functions in a more responsive way to community needs when a vibrant local news outlet exists.
In conclusion, for those of you that read your local newspaper or listen to local radio for news coverage on a regular basis, please remember to not take these important resources for granted. On top of covering local elected officials, your local news outlets provide in-depth human interest pieces, local sports coverage, arts and entertainment and other important dialogue that helps you better understand the place you call home.
Local news organizations truly are a critical piece of the fabric that weaves a community together. So during this Colorado Journalism Week and beyond, please remember to support your local news organizations and never take their value for granted.
Jason Lacy is president of the Steamboat Springs City Council and an attorney with Steamboat Lawyers Group.
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