James Briggs McClatchy
Excerpted from comments at
McClatchy Editors & Publishers Meeting
Fresno Bee photosSeptember 17,1993
Squaw Valley, California
by James McClatchy
Turning to the matter of newspaper character, the philosophical basis on which a newspaper rests is extremely important. Why is it published? Only to turn a profit? Or does it have another purpose? Is that purpose clear? Or is the character of the paper muddy?
Do our newspapers have something other papers don't have? Are we really different? The answer is yes, our newspapers have philosophical roots.
What has been this unique character? For one, a caring about the way things are for the ordinary person, caring about the way the world is, the way the state is, the way the city is. An intensity of concern, almost a personal expression of concern. This may be individualistic or even eccentric, a reflection of our origins and the personalities that shaped the Bees, a still-living connection to the issues and challenges and problems that existed 135 years ago and still exist today.
That concern was personal and expressed by editors 100 years ago, and 50 years ago, and it should be strong and expressed by editors 50 years from now.
I say it is not enough for us to have integrity and independence. We have those qualities and we are rightfully pleased with that, but every newspaper is supposed to have integrity and independence. That isn't enough.
The first Bee was founded by men who had a cause, who fervently believed in a just society. The newspaper they created showed it. It was passionate and aggressive about a lot of issues but it also was sensitive about individuals. It cared about the things that would make this new community a just society-affordable bank interest rates, land for settlers, an honest court system, cheap electricity when it arrived and clean water, trees and parks, good schools and fair treatment for the ordinary man.
The owners and staff have made major contributions to the fabric and quality of community life by working to get all these things. The Bee had policies that expressed their personal commitment to these practical goals as well as important philosophical values.
It is terribly important that these values and views and ideas and traditions, some of which are odd or idiosyncratic, be kept alive and respected. We need to be true to what we have inherited. We need to preserve the values from the past that give us strength today.
That won't happen without conscious effort, and the editorial committee is one of the tools to accomplish it.
If I believe in anything, I believe we must keep the faith with the many people who gave these papers not only integrity and independence, but extra elements of character and personality and convictions. These elements enriched their communities and made positive contributions towards that ideal of a just society.
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– Posted by Howard Weaver