HSPA going forward — proud of our legacy, blazing new trails

0
117

The Capitol Dispatch

By Amelia McClure

Few institutions in American culture are more steeped in tradition than journalism. The profession, inextricably tied to our country’s democracy through the Bill of Rights, is so deeply rooted in our shared past that it can be easy for our practices to be deemed antiquated or behind the times. And sure, it’s not hard to find someone who has (or had) a byline to tell you a story about the good ol’ days of typewriters and rubber cement. I’m sure at one point stories of parchment and quills were a dime a dozen.

But being respectful of tradition and understanding your profession’s past does not mean it is doomed to history. Rather, that context can inform our path forward during what is one of the most dramatic paradigm shifts in the consumption of news the modern world has seen. It can also be a salve, in a sense, to remind ourselves that newspapers survived the inventions of radio and television, the suburbanization of America and, so far, the advent of the internet. It pays to take the time to consider how newspapers overcame those challenges and what kind of thinking led them to success.

If anything can preserve an industry in fraught and uncertain times, it is an unyielding dedication to the truth. That is our greatest tradition. It is something few other professions can claim and serves as a critical element of preservation.

That firm connection to the past also serves to appropriately honor the critical function a free press serves as an adjunct to our government. We must remain committed to the tenets presented by our Founders to preserve the integrity of our democracy.

A long memory helps us do just that, for those who fail to learn from history – as Edmund Burke, George Santayana and Winston Churchill have warned us – are doomed to repeat it.

At times we risk being tethered to our past by a short leash, limiting our innovation and dampening our future success. Even if that’s only a small part of our lived experience, some perceive that newspapers are stuck in history. But if we think about our commitment to our legacy as a foundation, rather than a leash or processes to be beholden to, we are poised to grow decidedly upward in this brave new world and celebrate our history as tradition, not a trap.

If anything can preserve an industry in fraught and uncertain times, it is an unyielding dedication to the truth. That is our greatest tradition. It is something few other professions can claim and serves as a critical element of preservation.

In these next few weeks as we say goodbye to Steve Key, someone who is steeped in our history and holds a wealth of knowledge about our industry, I ask you to think about how our past, shaped by his contributions, can inform our path forward. Let’s go forward, proud of our legacy, armed with the knowledge our history provides us and excited to blaze new trails.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here