Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Fighting for Democracy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Fighting for Democracy

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Fighting for democracy


An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published March 1:

Read all about it.

At the New York Times, it's been "all the news that's fit to print" for more than a century.

The Citizen is currently without an official slogan, but it has used "Your community newspaper since 1916" and "It's what matters to you."

The Washington Post, which The Citizen subscribes to for international news, features and some comics, never had an official slogan before, although it marketed itself under "if you don't get it, you don't get it" for many years.

Now it has "democracy dies in darkness."

That's a pretty powerful statement for a newspaper that sent two ambitious rookie reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, to look into a break-in at the Watergate office complex, home of the Democratic National Committee, and came back with stories that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

It's also a shot across the bow of President Donald Trump or anyone else who would label the Post and its journalism as "fake news."

As Paul Farhi wrote in the Post, the reaction to "democracy dies in darkness" has been both complimentary and comical.

Stephen Colbert joked that some of the rejected phrases included "No, You Shut Up" and "We Took Down Nixon - Who Wants Next?"

Farhi explained that "democracy dies in darkness" may be an old phrase.

Woodward, who has used the phrase in speeches for many years, says he read it once in a judge's ruling of a First Amendment case but can't remember the specific case or the judge who wrote it.

The phrase has been most recently adopted by the Post's owner, founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who heard it from Woodward.

"I think a lot of us believe this, that democracy dies in darkness, that certain institutions have a very important role in making sure that there is light," he answered when asked why a man who made his billion dollars online would buy something so 20th century as a newspaper.

As sinister as the slogan sounds, however, the commitment to upholding journalism is commendable. The courts, the other branches of government and the free press, along with individual citizens, all have a central role to play in upholding democracy. That kind of discussion has been going on for years on both sides of the border, as news media outlets struggle to survive in the digital world.

In January, the Public Policy Forum published Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age, a report that looked at the Canadian media landscape.

Among its 12 recommendations include tax changes that unfairly target legacy media outlets, allowing those same outlets to receive philanthropic support, getting the CBC out of the digital advertising business and giving private media outlets stronger copyright control of their news content and making CBC's news content freely available to all media outlets under a Creative Commons licence. …

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