I picked up my local newspaper and then this happened…

jsoutherniconAs we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, please allow me to give you something to be thankful for beyond our families, friends, homes, jobs, health and the usual litany of things we all count as blessings in our lives.

I want you to be thankful for the things in life that are true. We have come through an American election cycle like no other before it. Although this nation has always been divided politically, we’ve always been able to accept the victory or defeat of our favored party and move on until the next election.

We are not seeing that this time around and I think it comes from a gross deficit of truth. It’s not just that the candidates themselves have been dishonest with us (they have), it’s all the third-party misinformation that has people riled up. When I say third party, I’m not talking about political parties but rather all the race-baiters, click-baiters, meme-makers and self-aggrandizing pundits with their own hidden agendas who have been flooding social media with hurtful and hateful messages designed to brew dissension across this great land of ours.

The so-called “fake news” sites flooded Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites with so much inflammatory garbage that it became nearly impossible to tell real news sources from the pretenders. Even legit media outlets had to spice up their headlines just to stay in the game. The fact that the mainstream media so badly predicted the outcome of the presidential election didn’t do much to restore the trust it lost.

I’d venture a guess that more people got their “information” about the candidates from their Facebook feed than they did from legitimate, traditional sources. By traditional sources, I mean formally educated and trained journalists who actually research and report the news with fairness and accuracy.

People have become so inflamed and opinionated by the half-truths and flat-out lies shared on Facebook that they don’t care to take the time to get the facts. In all fairness, it’s getting harder to decipher fact from opinion in the mainstream media. I just visited the sites of several major TV news outlets, the New York Times and Time Magazine. Their click-bait headlines blended so well with the fakes that you really couldn’t tell them apart. It really has become an Orwellian Animal Farm.

On the other hand, if you pick up a copy of your local community newspaper, you will see something entirely different. You’ll see a reflection of your community. You’ll see stories about your local government, local schools, civic groups, sports teams and interesting features about people in your neighborhood.

Community newspapers give you a true and honest look at the place where you live. They touch the important aspects of your life. They give you information to help make important decisions. They entertain you. They are increasingly filling a void created by the colliding kaleidoscope of fake news and real news sites online. Whether you’re reading a printed copy of the paper or viewing it at www.FortBendStar.com, you can trust that behind every byline is a trained professional journalist who lives in and cares about the communities we cover.

For almost four decades, readers in Fort Bend County have been able to count on the Star to bring them the news they depend on. We’ve also delivered it to your doorstep free of charge. That’s not going to change, at least not in the foreseeable future. We are firmly dedicated to bringing you important, timely news about your community.

What we are asking is for a little gratitude in return. Next week you will receive a letter from our publisher, Jonathan McElvy, asking for a voluntary contribution for the Star. Granted, there are some who would like us to go away. There are many more, however, who read the paper religiously and appreciate what we do. They appreciate that we were providing a free service long before you could get your news for free online.

The cost of printing the paper keeps going up. So does the cost of delivery. We want to be able to show our carriers a little love for the holidays and your contribution will help us to tip them and to meet some of the other expenses of producing this product. Whether you can give a few bucks or a few hundred dollars, anything you can do will not only help support this small business, it will also go right back into your community.

It is our hope that as you untangle the quagmire of misinformation that has engrossed and inflamed so much of this nation that you will be thankful for and respectful of a community newspaper that is dedicated to the truth and to the cities and towns we serve. We are certainly thankful for you, the reader, and all of our advertisers who afford us the opportunity to do what we love.

As you take some time to ponder and give thanks for the good things in your life, please don’t forget to be thankful for the truth, for free speech and for a free press that still brings you real news.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

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