Quality journalism is an indispensable element of a free society

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Good journalism in America is not dead. It is alive and well at the local and national levels in our country.

The First Amendment to the Constitution assures freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The contribution that this amendment has made to the growth, development and well-being of our country is incalculable.

One of the best examples I’ve seen recently of superior print journalism was the March 12 issue of USA Today.

The front-page article, titled “Fugitives Next Door,” tells the story of how thousands of fugitives are escaping justice simply by crossing state lines.

USA Today’s investigation tells of more than 3,300 accused of sexual assaults, robberies and even murder who are never punished – because they aren’t pursued across state borders through the normal channels of extradition.

The article says “Those decisions, almost always made in secret, permit fugitives to go free in communities across the country, leaving their crimes unpunished, their victims outraged and the public at risk.”

The FBI has a confidential database to track outstanding warrants. In at least 186,000 of those cases, police say they would not spend the time or the money to retrieve the fugitive from another state through extradition.

This shocking story, which absolutely had to be told, could not have been told without the dedication, commitment and resources of a major newspaper that has the public interest foremost in mind. Our congratulations to our friends at USA Today for an exemplary piece of old-fashioned, hard-nosed investigative journalism that, happily, is still being produced today.

AT THE LOCAL LEVEL, I’m proud to report this company’s newspapers also have done their part to keep Americans informed and free. One example, coming from our journalists in Alaska, is an outstanding series of articles telling the story of the decline in the number of king salmon in that state and why it was happening.

In Jacksonville, Fla., our Florida Times-Union investigated and disclosed that the mayor and other city officials had met in secret with the police and firefighter unions and renegotiated their pension plans.

That agreement was done under the guise of federal court mediation, in violation of the state’s sunshine laws, and involved a $1.7 billion-dollar unfunded obligation that threatens the city of Jacksonville. The Times-Union sued under the state law, and a judge invalidated the agreement and ordered the city to negotiate only in public.

No matter how many sources of information pop up – not all of them credible and reliable, as you know – America continues to need good journalism.

That may never have been truer than it is today. Technology has increased the speed of seemingly everything today – including the speed with which government and other forces act, often in ways that impact your life and livelihood.

Our First Amendment guarantees the people’s right to disseminate information of this and almost every other kind.

Newspapers provide the majority of this journalism, and often the best of it.

Certainly newspapers have experienced great challenges in the recent recession, and have been tested over the years by both technology and competition. But as USA Today’s article illustrates, and our own company’s experiences confirm, they continue to provide the necessary journalism that a free nation needs.

I couldn’t be more delighted to be a part of it.

(The writer is chairman and chief executive officer of Morris Communications Co.)

Comments (11) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/23/14 - 12:51 am
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2
Read All About It

We should all appreciate our newspapers. They are the watchdogs of government while educating the public on many issues. With the advent of the Internet and smart devices, newspapers have gained new dynamics of instantaneous reporting with reader comments. Give the reader commenters a pat of the back, too, while we’re passing out kudos.

deestafford
27600
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deestafford 03/23/14 - 01:02 am
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I can agree with Mr. Morris's comments about the local level;..

I can agree with Mr. Morris's comments about the local level; however, I believe his is mistaken at the national level.

The instance which he puts forward about USA Today is an case of a random act of journalism whereby a blind hog rooted long enough to find an acorn.

The national media is not doing its watch dog function when it comes to this administration. It is nothing more than a lapdog drooling all over Obama's trousers as it pants it adoration.

It is not holding him or his minions accountable for numerous thing which it would have been beating the drums for impeachment if it were a Republican in office.

I can't speak for Mr. Morris's other newspapers, but any in the nation would be hard pressed to rise to the level of the Augusta Chronicle no matter what size city in which it is printed.

specsta
6505
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specsta 03/23/14 - 02:55 am
4
9
Seriously?

deestafford wrote - "...but any in the nation would be hard pressed to rise to the level of the Augusta Chronicle no matter what size city in which it is printed."

Thanks so much for my laugh for today!

myfather15
55706
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myfather15 03/23/14 - 06:04 am
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Specsta with their typical hit&run job!!

Doesn't believe the Chronicle is fair, because it's not completely in the tank for left wing causes!!

THAT IS, fairness to the left!! The only fairness is to be completely committed to THEIR cause!! Otherwise, you're nothing more than bumbling idiots!!

No, thank you specsta; for the smile that came across my face, while seeing your typical jargon!!

myfather15
55706
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myfather15 03/23/14 - 06:08 am
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1
deestafford

"The instance which he puts forward about USA Today is an case of a random act of journalism"

At least you've given them credit for "finding an acorn"; I wouldn't even give them that!! With all the serious issues going on in the world, a story like this is top news?

I believe stories like this could be nothing more than diversion tactics!! Watch the right hand, while the left hand is stealing your walet!! Look over here at this incredible story, while the democrats are destroying your life, behind your back!!

ymnbde
9723
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ymnbde 03/23/14 - 09:16 am
7
1
i've subscribed to several papers over the years

and the Augusta paper editorial page is very well written
however, if you want to add one of your own examples to the list
perhaps your education reporter
could investigate the "inclusion" program
at our local public schools
and actually interview some real teachers
(off the record, of course...)
whose classes are disrupted daily
it's the same as if a few kids were allowed to play a loud radio
at their desks during class
and it is harming an already weak education system
and once again the kids are paying for the bureaucrat's folly

dahreese
4717
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dahreese 03/23/14 - 11:18 am
1
0
The local coverage seems to
Unpublished

The local coverage seems to be fine.

However, the editorials are mostly right wing propaganda.

And poorly written at that.

When was the last time a liberal editorial or article written by someone with a national reputation was published in the AC?

You don't have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

Jon Lester
2301
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Jon Lester 03/23/14 - 12:17 pm
3
1
Good US journalism has been sorely lacking in the past month

with regard to Ukraine coverage. Americans have no idea how much they're being lied to by the entire for-profit Western media establishment, and even by certain not-for-profit outlets, because large foundations and corporate underwriters expect something for supporting those, as well.

Conservative Man
5564
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Conservative Man 03/23/14 - 12:28 pm
5
0
"Quality journalism….

….is an indispensable element of a free society"….to which I say "yes it is"…

But for Mr. Morris to suddenly tout Morris Communication"s credibility on "investigative journalism" is indeed interesting…

NOT because his papers routinely do it in other markets, but because the paper in THIS market (his hometown by the way)…is strangely quiet when it comes to "investigating" things like the TEE Center parking debacle..and the ensuing "change order" mess..just to name ONE of the many instances of shady dealing in this city..

If someone who runs a company the size of Morris Communications is loathe to clean up around their own back door then why am I supposed to thank them for doing it elsewhere….?

"Physician heal thyself"..

seenitB4
87173
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seenitB4 03/23/14 - 12:45 pm
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Thank you Morris Communications

You have done a fantastic job with the news & also with the many jobs you provide in the CSRA..

IAmISaid
206
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IAmISaid 03/23/14 - 01:06 pm
2
7
Well, now...
Unpublished

We all knew Billy Morris is a bankruptcy cheat, a backroom dealer who secretly runs the city along with a handful of his ANGC buds, who has subverted the city government to profit himself and his BFF's at the expense of taxpayers and residents of the city, but who knew he was such a talented comedy writer?

Butterman
3680
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Butterman 03/23/14 - 04:45 pm
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3
April Fools Day
Unpublished

When I read this I thought it must be a joke but then realized that April Fools Day is more than a week away

GnipGnop
12234
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GnipGnop 03/24/14 - 08:17 am
0
0
Really?

Have yet to see a piece written about how much money Billy and Paul have bilked the tax payers out of? While your editorial does lean more to the right your owner must walk with a limp from being off balanced from the tax payer money in his left pocket...give me a break. Any long time resident knows the tax payers have funded Billy projects for years....

Brad Owens
4427
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Brad Owens 03/24/14 - 11:23 pm
0
0
Conservativeman...

The man who wrote this is getting his debt paid off because of the TEE, why would he crush the deal he made happen and benefits from directly?

dahreese
4717
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dahreese 03/28/14 - 09:19 pm
0
0
The AC’s local coverage seems
Unpublished

The AC’s local coverage seems to be quite good.

The editorials, however, are intentionally far right and
often misleading.

So much so, that an average eighth grader would have
no problem discerning that if presented with the opportunity
read an opposing view.

When is the last time, or the first, that a liberal editorial
was published in the AC?

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