Guest Opinion | Johnson: Libraries and newspapers — as American as baseball, mom, apple pie and hot dogs |

Guest Opinion | Johnson: Libraries and newspapers — as American as baseball, mom, apple pie and hot dogs

Here’s a question for you. What do libraries, newspapers, baseball, mom, apple pie, and hot dogs have in common?

Despite being embodiments of America, each is often taken for granted and folks do not realize what a difference each brings to our lives.

One might argue about baseball, apple pie, or hot dogs—but it is hard to argue about the value of newspapers and libraries. Both champion freedom of speech and provide information of all types.

Walter Cronkite once said, “Whatever the cost of our libraries the cost is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

I think we could substitute “newspapers” for “libraries” and have a good argument for the value of an information source—especially local information.

Many use social media, online news feeds, and other online platforms for news delivery.

This often results in their receiving unvetted, or unexamined, news bits of information that are being fed out of context, wrapped in opinion, intended to inflame or just alarm.

David Brooks, in “The Blindness of Social Wealth”, an April 16, 2018 opinion piece for the New York Times, stated “Facebook and other social media companies are feeding (an) epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.” In other words, getting constant news and opinion feeds on your phone, tablet, watch, or computer, can cause distress, anxiety and loneliness.

Information that a newspaper journalist prepares, on the other hand, has been carefully written to convey facts without bias and to enlighten the public and to inform about local concerns.

A local newspaper brings community news to the public which has social value — knowing what is happening in your town, county, or state builds a sense of belonging and a pride of citizenship.

The advertisements are carefully crafted to notify readers of local events and celebrations. The community calendars are priceless, letting us make plans to attend and enjoy being with others who have shared interests.

Newspapers and libraries have another thing in common: they build communities.

Both celebrate diversity, have something for everyone, and provide opportunities to share your voice.

You can find copies of your local newspapers at Grand County’s libraries. Read up, folks!

Jeanie Johnson is the director of public services for the Grand County Library District.

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