A lot of the talk that happens in my house revolves around when the next superhero movie is coming out. My children and husband love Marvel and tolerate DC movies, and with the abundance of these films coming out yearly, there’s always something to look forward to.
I have basically boycotted the movies for years now, so that’s their “thing.”
Rarely do I get excited about an upcoming movie. But, when I saw the preview for “The Post” before Christmas, something inside me flickered and I could not wait for January 12, 2018 to roll around.
I saw the movie twice within 24 hours of it coming out.
The premise of the movie revolves around a study conducted by the government during the Vietnam War. The classified government documents, which were copied, leaked and published in the New York Time and the Washington Post in the early 1970’s showed that Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon knew that American troops in the Vietnam War were not making headway, and that the government continued to engage in the war just to save face.
The New York Times published parts of the documents first. Then President Nixon placed an injunction on the newspaper. While the Times was silenced, the Washington Post received 4,000 pages of the document and printed its findings.
This was the first time in American history that the government halted the press on a topic.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court where the court ruled in favor of free press 6-3.
I love the sayings, “Freedom of the Press” and “Freedom of Speech.” Many people believe that this means we can say and write whatever we want to because it is our right.
But that’s not true.
What is widely known as “Freedom of Expression” just gives American citizens the right to form and express opinions without the censorship of the government or fear of punishment.
The government’s argument in this case against the Times and the Post was that the publications were exposing military strategies.
The publications were careful to not expose military secrets, but stuck by the responsibility of the press to let the governed public know about the decisions being made that affect their way of life.
In his ruling on this case, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said the founding fathers gave the press to the American people because “the press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”
My family had an opportunity to move away from Mahomet, to go back to our home state, Indiana, about seven or eight years ago. I remember the fear I had at the time when I thought about leaving this town.
We moved to Mahomet in the summer of 2002, right after we graduated from college. At the time, I had a two-year-old daughter and another one on the way. I felt like a foreigner here in the beginning.
Believe it or not, Indiana is full of hills and trees and little corners where no one can find you. But in Illinois, everything is wide open. I felt like I was visible to everyone, but nobody saw me.
It didn’t take long for my personality to open up like the Illinois sky, though. I was able to make connections and friends. My kids got into the school system where teachers and administrators greeted them with a hug daily. And for the first time in my whole life, I was part of a community that became my home.
I didn’t want to leave because I love Mahomet.
And writing for the Mahomet Citizen and Mahomet Daily deepened my love for this place.
Telling Mahomet’s stories as they happened became a real treasure for me. Quite literally, actually.
It was almost like each time I received an assignment, I was uncovering a diamond. I found great joy in telling the stories of a man who built an airplane in his garage or a family who came from Mexico just so that their son could continue his education or a woman whose husband had left her and she went into business for herself.
These stories, and so many more make up an incredible people whom I am glad to call my neighbors and friends every day.
And I still enjoy telling those stories. We have so many amazing people in our town, that it’s often hard to keep up with all of the excitement. I just met with my team yesterday, and we aren’t at a loss for great topics.
Owning a publication is different than writing for a publication, though.
When I wrote for a publication, I got to pick a lot of my assignments. A happy story here and a happy story there, makes Mahomet a happy place.
But as a publication owner, I began to see Mahomet in a different way than I had in previous years.
I followed boards and organizations, I watched school programs and development initiatives, reporting on what was said and what was happening.
Looking back, I didn’t know where to begin. I’d sat in on board meetings before, but as I listened to the staff and board talk, I had no history to refer to. I had no context to the story. I would hide my voice recorder in my pocket so that when I got home I could listen again and again as I tried to make sense of it for you.
Now, over the last 10 years, I have sat in on countless board meetings. I can tell you what happened a month or five years ago. I know what was said, what was done, who followed through, who forgot and what changed because all of this time I have been present. All of this time, I have been watching and gathering information.
I have listened to hundreds of stories. I have seen people win, lose, fall, get up, stab others in the back, throw blame, start fires or run away from the madness.
That is what a journalists job is. It’s not only to tell the stories about a great people, but to watch for a long period of time, to look for patterns or discrepancies, to ask questions, to gather facts, and then to present information that helps you make a decision about how you want to live your life.
The Mahomet Daily is not full of reporters who have just come to the game or plan on leaving soon. The Mahomet Daily is full of journalists who hold a town’s history, present and future.
We do not control the facts. We do not make any decisions in this town. We have zero decision making power. But, as a publication, we do have a responsibility to the people to report on what is happening in our community in a way that gives you the facts within a complete picture.
I think it’d be fantastic if all of that information was just laid out for you, the taxpayers and residents of Mahomet. I wish all of that information was laid out for you as the taxpayers and citizens of Illinois and the United States. I wish it were that way. It would not only make my job easier as a journalist, but it would also make our lives as humans rich.
But journalism, the freedom of press, exists because it does not always work that way. In fact, sometimes, the governors try to save face.
Journalism exists because the press is one of the best ways to hold elected officials responsible for what they do and what they do not do.
It is the journalist’s job to ask questions and to find information to ensure that public officials are conducting our (the people’s) business in the manner they should.
We live in a town where I can almost guarantee you that any reporter has never asked questions other than who, what, when or where. We are gathering that information for you, but are also asking why and how.
My grandma taught me that just because you believe in something, it doesn’t mean that you don’t seek out additional information and ask more questions because that is how we acquire knowledge, problem solve and really define what we believe and who we are.
We live in a great community. Yes, it is ranked and we receive accolades, but that does not shield us from our issues. And guys, let’s be honest, we have some issues.
Everyone has a role in a community: there are those who are making decisions on residential plats, there are those making decisions about the curriculum our children learn, there are those who make decisions on the price of business space, there are those who make the decisions on road names. The role of the Mahomet Daily does not lie here.
It is our job to report on what is or is not happening around you. Because that’s what publications do.
I know that my priorities do not always align with the world’s priorities.
What I care most is the people of this town. I care about your ideas, your hearts, your visions and even your voice. I want to and have celebrated all of our wonderfulness with you. I have also sat with you on the phone, listening to your concerns and felt what you are feeling.
I promise that the Mahomet Daily will always be a publication for the people. I promise that the Mahomet Daily will always about giving you the information you need so that we can live our collective lives together. It is our job to remain impartial, to give all the facts and information to you. And that will never change.