An Appreciation for Freedom of the Press

Students from an early age are taught to value the Constitution and the essential, enumerated freedoms of the First Amendment, most notably for this particular column: the freedom of expression and freedom of the press (from excessive legislative oversight or prohibition). We too often take for granted the beauty and wisdom of this protection. The US Congress was well aware of British censorship before and during the American Revolution and was determined not to undermine serious discourse but to promote discussion and, yes, even disagreement. I write this article today to thank Mr. Larry Franklin as former editor and soon-to-be former publisher of The Clinton Chronicle. Mr. Franklin has held high to the principles so expressed by the protection and opportunity afforded through the First Amendment. As editor, Mr. Franklin embraced the role of information gatherer and disseminator for our small community. Many other editors likely would have left our paper and community years ago in order to make themselves more famous, more affluent, or more powerful. But not Mr. Franklin! He accepted the role of small town paper editor and, in so doing, created a conduit of opportunity for the local history of our town to be appreciated and remembered. Having local writers serve as serious reporters made this paper a hallmark of excellence. Authors like Mr. Tommy Kitchens and Mr. Bobby Joe Meadors provide an insight into our community during rough and trying times. Their writing is quality journalism looking into the mind and culture of our communities and schools and their stories state a simple, poignant truth of goodness during hard times and living by the Golden Rule and realizing that much about life today could be so much better if we but slowed down and appreciated the simple things. Mr. Franklin’s efforts to provide readers a rotating staff of local opinion columns sought to showcase the many different layers in our communities. These lay editors/guest columnists provided laser sharp insight into the city government, the hospital system, Presbyterian College, community affairs, and, yes, even the school system. Each of these lay editors, most notably the Rev. Dr. Russ Dean, left the reader with “head scratching, yet affirming points to ponder.” Not trivial, consumable, or useless information like so much of social media chatter, but affirming calls to character development or civic participation! Larry Franklin could have burned out or hit cruise control but instead he kept pushing the envelope in making the paper truly embody its mission, “The Clinton Chronicle.” All articles were not affirming; all were fair. I knew full well when things went poorly in the district or an employee chose to make poor decisions I had to face Mr. Franklin…but never as an adversary, merely a journalist holding to the high principles of his profession. He always sought to tell the truth even when the truth hurt. The framers of the First Amendment never saw the proliferation of the “information age” and the ease and availability of immediate access. Facts (i.e., the truth) are often the first martyrs of the most opinionated; however, all of my dealings with the print media in Clinton have been cautious to a fault to “know the story before reporting on it.” Mr. Franklin’s retirement and departure leave a void not easily filled in our county and community. Our paper has been the one stalwart vanguard for our community since its founding in 1900…resistant to the vicissitudes of fashion trends and economic downturns and yet even amenable to the technology needed for instant access in a 24/7 world. America has been wise to provide freedom of the press. You see, an informed and engaged electorate is essential for the perpetuation of the democratic ideals further defined by our Constitution. The Clinton Chronicle has held to the high calling of watching, interviewing, reporting, and informing our community and Mr. Larry Franklin has been the CEO of a professional process and product. I am sure the framers of the US Constitution would be very proud of our paper and its vision and its efforts. Thank you, Larry, for making our community, our schools, and our citizens proud to be from and around Clinton. You’ve done very, very well indeed. (Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens County School District 56.)

My Clinton News

P.O. Box 180
513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
Fax: (864) 833-1902

 

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