Pounds: Defending free speechWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | email@example.com
While the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights should be cherished by all Americans (and any society that wishes to emulate our freedoms), the First Amendment is particularly important for people in journalism: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As the Occupy Wall Street movement challenges the laws and ordinances of communities great and small, and as Toledo Free Press faces its own challenges to its freedoms, the First Amendment has a prominent place in my thoughts.
I am not a journalist. I use this space to comment on issues I feel are relevant to the business community and our region as a whole, but I am first and foremost a business owner concerned with providing what I believe is a valuable service to the community — while trying to make a living.
When I founded Toledo Free Press LLC in 2004, I knew I wanted to establish a newspaper that focused on community journalism — which I define as stories that focus on people and events not always featured in mainstream media. I wanted to establish a “glass half-full” approach; I wanted to help the community improve and grow, to draw new people and retain its current residents by showcasing the better elements of living here. I know that criticism and commentary are a part of that puzzle, but I do not claim to have insight into creating those knowledge streams. I wanted to provide a vehicle, but I needed someone to help me design it, build it and drive it.
A number of editors I spoke to turned down the opportunity. After a few early 2005 meetings with Michael Miller, who at the time was news editor of The Daily Telegram in Adrian, I believed I had found someone who understood the greater mission.
From the beginning, Michael and I agreed that we needed to collaborate on the business but that I would not dictate editorial content or his commentary. I have kept that promise and here we are nearly seven years later, having just won our third consecutive Ohio Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) award for Best Weekly Newspaper in Ohio. We have earned some great distinctions in our short history, and I know we could not have done this without Michael and his team, just as they know they could not make their visions a reality without the sales, administration and publishing elements of the newspaper.
I am not a journalist, but journalism is the field that supports my family. I understand the importance of the First Amendment, now more than ever.
Toledo Free Press will fight for its free speech rights, which means we are fighting for your free speech rights. Any compromise for freedom of the press is a loss for the entire community.
Even a short-term bow to censorship threatens the success of the long run — in a race that has no finish line.
As we thank SPJ for the recognition and continue with our work, we remain grateful for your support and look forward to serving you for many, many years to come.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.