OUR OPINION: A good newspaper builds community

As the new year begins, the Daily Journal recommits to its readers our continued best efforts to follow the principles that have guided the paper for most of its 144-year history. Among the written expressions of those principles still applicable today is the essay “A Good Newspaper Builds Community,” written by George McLean, the Journal’s owner from 1934 until his death in 1983, and excerpted below.


The good newspaper should be a catalyst in its community, oiling the efforts of widely varying groups to achieve a reasonably smooth, balanced flow of progress. It seeks to provide coherence to scattered and sometimes conflicting objectives, enabling its community to get a better view of priorities and ways in which joint efforts may prove better than splintered activities.



The good newspaper is its community’s encourager which by making known what groups and individuals are doing brings mutual support for each other’s projects and invites still greater personal initiative … The good newspaper can contribute perhaps more than any other institution to development of an active, mutually serving citizenship …

The good newspaper seeks to promote a spirit of neighborliness, by the features it carries on the activities, the hopes and concerns of the “average” citizen … It seeks ways to say “yes” rather than “no” to requests from its readers or the general public. It is warm, not cold; flexible, not rigid, in meeting each day’s challenges.

The good newspaper should be a friend of its community, limiting criticism to needs for improvements rather than condemning shortcomings.

The good newspaper carries stories about progressive undertakings and methods, which can be profitably imitated by its own community, recognizing that the good example of others is frequently effective; creating the impression that “if others can do it, so can we.”…

The good newspaper is an economic tool for personal and community progress. It recognizes its advertising as being of major value to the community as is its news and should try to maintain the integrity of its ads as it does that of news stories.

The good newspaper serves as an educational institution, takes up where a college degree or institutional walls may stop, teaches life as it actually is being lived without effort to conceal human frailties but seeks to help maintain faith and hope in human potential and human progress, emphasizes the good more than the bad.

The good newspaper reaches out as far as it can touch or see to bring to its readers new ideas, new approaches to life, new methods of meeting problems, and new information which adds interest or joy to life. …

The good newspaper adopts as one of its major objectives the unobtrusive establishment of a definite tone in its community built around high ethical standards, a cooperative spirit, a broadly based tolerance among all groups, a yearning for personal and community growth, a belief in God, service to man and hope for a better tomorrow.

  • Ells Worth

    There was a time when I had to have my morning cup of hot coffee and the Journal. A few years ago the paper took a left turn and left me behind. Opinion poles, I know, are not news, but it does reflect on the papers character. Even your reporters report the news with a democrat bias which turns off more than 50% of

    • countrydawg

      Opinion poles (sic) are just that: opinions. The paper doesn’t present those POLL findings as facts; no local newspaper does. They’re meant to drive page clicks as well as give the reader something to look at while perusing the site. Could you explain why you feel the Journal’s reporters have a “democrat bias [sic]?” What does that even mean?

      • Ells Worth

        i probably should not have said the staff hade a democrat bias because it is not called bias if you openly support and continually write news and article favoring democrats and democrat social issues rather than just report the news.

        • countrydawg

          Can you cite examples of the staff’s “democrat bias?” Can you cite examples of reporters “openly and continually writing news and article (sic) favoring democrats and democrat social issues?” What do those phrases even mean? Keep flailing, though, as there are plenty of garbage “news” sites and cable TV news networks to fill the void you’re craving.