by Emily Lewy
A free press is essential for our form of government to survive. Without the strength of character and bravery of Benjamin Franklin and other publishers of that time our form of government would never have been created.
Standing up for truth, honor, justice and the American Way when those ideals are not greatly valued by those in power requires qualities that go unnourished in most communities. Reporter Matt Aiken of The Dahlonega Nugget is our Superman for speaking the truth and not backing down when challenged.
Editor/Publisher Wayne Knuckles of The Dahlonega Nugget is to be commended for being an honorable member of an old fashioned press that is not cowed by pompous people in power.
I sincerely believe that showing “backbone” will be good for the newspaper. Respect is justifiably lost when the public perceives the press to be a pawn of special interests. I know enough about what is going on to be able to say that The Dahlonega Nugget rarely gets the facts wrong. However, on numerous occasions in the past, issues that ought to have been reported never made it to print.
“The People” under our form of government must know what their government is doing. Discussion of issues during Work Sessions are supposed to allow the public and press time to knowledgeably communicate with commissioners and others about the issues. Public influence is eliminated from decision making when facts are made public after official action takes place.
Our multi-member county commission is required by law to discuss all issues in public as they are being considered. The only exceptions are for purchases of real estate and certain personnel or legal matters. Those limited exceptions exist to protect interests of “The People” not to be opportunities for elected officials to hide behind closed doors.
Rights not demanded are lost. “The People” are out trying to make a living. The press and those of us who actually attend meetings have a responsibility to alert others when rights are ignored.
Every issue on the agenda must be discussed so that a member of the public who is not usually present can understand. The media should not need private conversations with elected officials to get the facts. Private conversation and special treatment can lead to collusion between the press and elected officials; or even more likely, denial of access to those who dare stand up to those presumed to be powerful.
“The People” must demand that government comply with provisions of the law to prevent the media from becoming pawns to gain access to information.