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Another View: Politicos promote passion for the press

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Managing Editor
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In an increasingly diverse media world where people pull their information from a multitude of sources, it was a pleasure to hear a group that is sometimes not very news friendly, extol the virtues and importance of quality print journalism.
This was on display Wednesday when the nonprofit California Newspaper Publishers Association held its 16th annual Governmental Affairs Day at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in downtown Sacramento.
Journal Reporter Jon Schultz and I were joined by more than 100 members of the print media, from major metropolitan dailies to smaller weeklies and even those in high school media — showing there is still a much-needed interest in news gathering.
We heard from multiple members of our state legislature and a governmental lobbyist, investor and now newspaper owner talk about the importance of access to information by the news media and how journalists can shine a light on government, which in turn can foster more transparency.
A champion of a more open government, Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, spoke of the importance of the press in keeping those in the capital city honest and to empower the people of California.
“The way you can do that is by … (offering) unfiltered information about what the government is doing,” he said.
He went on to talk about how true journalists, those with proper training and experience, are where people should go for their news, not bloggers with limited access and possible biases that could be cultivated from whomever is paying them.
Yee also commented on how the recent struggles in the newspaper industry have surfaced in his dealings with journalists. He talked about how the reduction of resources has inadvertently hurt the coverage of certain topics and events.
When reporters who had five, 10 or 15 years of institutional knowledge are now gone because of buyouts or layoffs, it makes it harder for papers to know what a certain legislator said on a topic many years ago, when that subject is once again back in the news.
While all it would take is some simple research to see what someone said previously (or to even know they were involved the first time around), if you don’t have that knowledge immediately, it’s hard to question a source in the middle of an interview on a topic when they’ve changed their view.
Those on the Republican side of the aisle recognized the importance of the media as well, and being accountable when called before the press. Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Visalia, talked about taking responsibility when speaking to the press, recognizing that as a legislator you are a public figure, and to not be surprised to see whatever it is you said on A1, above the fold.
Darius Anderson, CEO of Platinum Advisors, a player in the political world and now a partner in Sonoma Media Investments, which owns several newspapers in the Bay Area, also talked about the importance of print media keeping the public informed about what those in the state capitol are up to – an interesting take from a man who has worked in political circles for years.
While our industry continues to change, even here in the foothills, Wednesday’s event reinforced what many people already agree on, the need for an accurate and free press keeping tabs on those in power and informing the public – be it on the Web or in print.
While I knew that already, it’s always nice to see those in power acknowledge the need to keep them honest – even when it hurts.
Andrew DiLuccia is the City and Multimedia Editor for the Auburn Journal. Reach him at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com.