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Knowing keeps us free, indeed

Knowing keeps us free, indeed

Every year, there seems to be a Super Bowl commercial that sparks controversy. There are also the ads each year that give you a good laugh or pull at your heart strings. And then there are the commercials that are much more than ads, much greater than trying to grow a company’s bottom line.

I don’t believe it’s fair to lump all news together as “the media” and I think any news organization should have its own voice. But what the Washington Post did in its Super Bowl ad was not just about the national newspaper. The company spoke on behalf of the entire journalism industry with its message that knowledge is power.

News organizations everywhere give you knowledge. Comprehensive news sources like the Times-Republican give you knowledge all the time about local government, crime, business, education, our town’s sports teams and much more.

As Marshalltown has faced recent tragedies, we’ve been there through it all, to arm you with knowledge. And while some of our stories will spark more interest or generate more shares on social media, we believe all our stories from government meetings to church updates matter. We believe knowledge and the ability to make informed decisions matters.

I’m an optimistic person, but I am not naive. I know not everyone believes in or understands the significance of news. I know many people have had disagreements with a journalist’s decisions, including my own. I know there are some who don’t trust “the media.”

But I know even with those flaws, there are hundreds of examples of journalists making communities better in big and small ways. Everything from national storylines to community journalism makes an impact.

A Pulitzer Prize winner I’ve met said the story he was most proud of was one he wrote long before his Pulitzer-winning work. He recalled a story about a rural North Carolina town where residents faced several issues because there wasn’t a stop sign. After the story published, the town got a stop sign. Perhaps insignificant to some, but it meant everything to that town.

I could stay on my soapbox forever talking about the importance of journalism — and believe me, I will. But at the end of the day, the future of journalism is in your hands. It’s up to you to see the importance for yourself, to be an advocate and to invest in journalism. If you, too, believe in quality journalism, then show your support.

And if you take issue with the current state of journalism, I’d love to have a discussion with you. That’s not just a line. I truly want to hear opposing views. I don’t believe anything is accomplished when we shelter ourselves with thinking that is only similar to our own.

I will not tell you every news organization is perfect or there aren’t improvements that need to be made. But I will tell you, you’d miss us if we were gone. Because, as the ad says, knowing empowers us — and knowing keeps us free.