FLICKING through copies of the paper from 40 years ago for my weekly Angel Radio show Yesterday’s News, I came across a full-page report of a readers’ forum held at The News Centre.
The editor of the time, Howard Faircloth, had defined the role of The News in the local community and large panel on the page summarised his views.
For me, his words are as true today as they were back in 1971 and on that basis I reprint some of his observations here.
‘The News must not only keep abreast of the times but also if possible be one step ahead.
‘A lively but responsible newspaper dare not mark time; it must be alive to the requirements of its readers and advertisers; it must be mindful of the opportunities for expansion to improve its revenue, so essential in the light of soaring costs; it also must be ever conscious of its duty to give a service.
‘The News is mindful of its duty to serve the communities among whom it circulates.
‘It serves in a variety of ways, not the least by its intense interest in the welfare of its readers and the citizens in general and by its fearless stand for right principles and standards of decency.’
With the help of Abe Lincoln, Mr Faircloth also succinctly summarised the paper’s role of seeking to improve life in the area as well as expose shortcomings, citing the President’s observation: ‘He has a right to criticise who has a heart to help.’
I do believe that as a generation of journalists we carry a torch handed to us by predecessors and which we are responsible for keeping bright for those who will follow.
Those words of 40 years ago set a standard to which we still aspire today.