We were poring through the Mindanao Times’ archives researching for what could be similar to today’s pandemic but found instead a gem of wisdom from former Times editor in chief Atty. Cesar Nunez who talked about the role of the community newspaper, 40 years ago. We take the liberty of reprinting this article as it rings true to this day.
“In a free society, the newspaper must censure the government and act as conscience of society even if some people in it are censurable and are without a conscience.
“The newspaper is charged with the duties to inform, to teach to crusade for reforms and changes and to know as much, if not more, as the readers to whom it writes.
“But it cannot do these, if we man the newspaper with ignorant, uneducated, corrupt and incorrigibly prejudiced men and women who cannot command the respect of the readers who are educated and knowledgeable about such subjects as government, economics, city planning and zonification, conservation of natural resources and politics, population growth and control, the ideologies that threaten the stability of the democratic institution, and the advances of science and technologies.
“Being a man-made, the newspaper will always suffer from defects and commit abuses.
“But were it not for the newspaper the people would not know what the government and public officials are doing and will do, nobody will prod the city hall to implement the salary adjustment and the new minimum wage law, nobody will prompt the police to go after the gamblers, smugglers and dynamiters and nobody will remind the people that most of the problems they face today were spawned by their own apathy, indolence and timidity.
“Newspapering is an apostleship because it demands far more sacrifice, courage, intelligence and adherence to the truth and entails risk of life and limb in crusading for good government and the good life for all.
“Better the abuse than a denial of a free press. The abuse dies in a day, but a denial of the freedom of the press slays the life of the people and entombs the hope of the race.”
(Ed’s note: The full quote is: “Without free speech no search for truth is possible… no discovery of truth is useful… Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race.” – Charles Bradlaugh. Charles Bradlaugh was a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century. He founded the National Secular Society in 1866.)
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