Delaware SN: Brighter days ahead for local journalism?

By Joe Smyth

Our little company was one of the pioneers of non-profit ownership of newspapers. Fifty years ago, we made a few decisions that were, in retrospect, pretty unusual.

  • To protect their independence, safeguard their mission, and ensure their survival, we gave ownership of our newspapers to a non-profit journalistic trust.
  • To extend the First Amendment to the grassroots, we gave our opinion pages to the citizens of our communities.
  • To support our communities, we gave a mission of community service to our newspapers and a mission of purposeful neutrality to our newsrooms.

Could newspapers everywhere — non-profit or for profit, print or digital — regain public trust and earn the support of their communities by following the same principles that have guided us: ownership committed to community service, editors who facilitate the community’s civil discussion of public issues instead of dominating it, and newsrooms that report the news with purposeful neutrality?