Black, white and read all over: Twitter users showing love for newspapers
The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.
— Ida B. Wells
Tuesday was Love My Newspaper Day on Twitter.
Most of the love came from current and former journalists, but readers had some nice things to say as well.
Love My Newspaper Day got its start in December 2015 when media consultant (and Auburn University graduate) Kevin Cate heard one too many snippy remarks made about journalists.
According to a 2015 post on Poynter.org, Cate fired off the following message to subscribers of Above the Fold Florida, his daily newsletter: “The print and digital editions of newspapers allow us to be briefed like kings and queens for next to nothing. Seriously, you'd have to be a billionaire to afford that on your own. Newspapers are worth defending.”
Cate then suggested that supporters show support for their favorite print journalists by using the hashtag #LoveMyNewspaper on Dec. 2, 2015.
“It's not a print or digital thing,” Cate, whose father is a TV anchor in Tampa, told Poynter. “It's people who have no understanding and therefore no respect about how hard it is to be not only a journalist but also a relevant product that is keeping government accountable and also just maintaining a pulse on the community.”
This year’s Love My Newspaper Day was held less than a week after Walmart removed a T-shirt from its site that suggested lynching members of the media.
The Radio Television Digital News Association filed a complaint about the shirt, which was sold by a third-party and read “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”
Similar shirts were seen at political rallies during last year’s presidential campaign.
Several newspapers fought back with shirts of their own.
Shortly after the election, The Anniston Star began selling shirts featuring the First Amendment and the slogan “Facts. Words. Integrity. Some courage required.”
In Texas, Victoria Advocate editor Chris Cobler had shirts made up for his staff that read “First Amendment. Journalist. Your support required.”
While last year’s election elevated media bashing to a spectator sport, heightened interest also led to publications such as The New York Times and the Washington Post gaining thousands of new digital subscribers — an effect dubbed the “Trump bump.”
In 2017, the Times and the Post continued to make new converts by launching podcasts that feature a rotating cast of reporters discussing the issues of the day.
The most successful of these is “The Daily,” hosted by the Times’ former political reporter Michael Barbaro. Most articles about Barbaro and the podcast mention the episode in which he cried while interviewing a coal miner who has black lung disease.
The tears began to flow after Barbaro had to admit that he had never been to coal country and couldn’t identify with the struggles his guest was describing.
The exchange seemed to confirm the often-heard criticism that the mainstream media has lost touch with average Americans.
However, there are thousands of journalists working in the heartland every day. Most of them will never be rich or famous, but they keep at it because they know people rely on them to know what’s going in their community.
They work for a public who thinks they get their news on Facebook for free when in fact most of those posts are the regurgitated stories of local reporters.
News broadcasts at the local and national level are often built on the uncredited work of print journalists as well.
In January 2014, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wrote a piece for The Washington Post in which she listed several national stories that were first reported by local outlets — the New Jersey bridge scandal, a corruption scandal involving former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland and a sex scandal involving former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
“Our democracy depends on local journalism, whether it’s a beat reporter slogging through yet another underattended local commission meeting, or a state political reporter with enough of an ear to the ground to know where the governor might be when he isn’t where he says he is, or a traffic columnist who’s nobody’s fool,” Maddow wrote.
John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” echoed Maddow’s point in a broadcast last August.
“The media is a food chain which would fall apart without local newspapers,” Oliver told viewers.
Although I didn’t officially participate in Love My Newspaper Day, I am certainly thankful that print journalism has paid my bills for the last 10 years.
More importantly, I am thankful for all of the print journalists whose work informs and inspires me on a daily basis.
Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s features editor.