Freedom of the Press
As we enter into February, I am grateful that the days are, ever so slightly, becoming longer. Our winter this year has been brutal - both the weather and the politics - and I am ready for Spring, or at least some normalcy to return in both.
As I write this, Portland is experiencing a brief interlude of almost spring-like weather, and folks, as we do, have come outside to get in some fresh air and socializing. As I talk to people, I find them starting to adjust to our new normal, and I wonder, is this good? Like images of war or the homeless in doorways, we become immune to the small and large horrors that bombard us every day, so I shouldn't be surprised that we have also begun to dampen our reactions when we see our politicians - and, sad to say sometimes neighbors - saying and doing hateful things on a daily basis. I hope the protesters continue to march, the organizers keep up the emails, and communities find ways to stand by their people and principles, whether that means declaring themselves sanctuary cities (or, as in Oregon, sanctuary states), or finding ways to keep deeply needed social programs going regardless of national politics. These things are what make us free.
One of the great freedoms we still have - much to a certain administration's chagrin - is freedom of the press. My shelves are full of great publications that can only exist while this freedom is maintained. I have had many people ask recently if I can offer some suggestions on how they should be supporting our press in these difficult times. My most ardent recommendation is to pay for your news, directly from those who are publishing it. Investigative journalism costs a great deal of money, and newspapers in our country are in decline. We must support the watchers, if we want to know what is really going on. Clicking on links from Google or Apple news, or surfing on HuffPo, and especially reading stuff on Twitter is not supporting journalism. Paying for a subscription (print or digital!) to the New York Times, or Washington Post, or LA Times, is. There are independent organizations out there doing excellent work, such as ProPublica and PBS NewsHour. And there are magazines, such as The Atlantic, Harper's and The New Yorker, that support great investigative journalism. I always have a selection of good ones to choose from, and I am bringing in a few more (and I am always open to suggestions!); The City Reader is and will remain a place to find excellent journalism. But whether you get it from me or not, please support the freedom of the press with your wallet if possible, and definitely with your vote. In our democratic and capitalist society, that is how we can make a difference.