As we take a moment starting Sunday to observe National Newspaper Week, it is important to note that freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, of assembly and to petition the government are woven, like stars in the flag, into the fabric of the First Amendment.

“Think first — know your five freedoms” is the theme of the newspaper industry’s celebration, for newspapers are vital to the challenges we face every day to keep those freedoms alive.

The blood of patriots is the seed of the Republic. The founders and those who followed in their footsteps invested their lives in this country. We’ve made it clear over the decades that it’s the soldier who deserves the credit for keeping us free, but others have paid a price.

Not all journalists complete routine days. A bullet killed Ernie Pyle in a safe zone on Ie Shima during World War II; he is one of many reporters who died to bring the public truth about war. Last year, in Annapolis, Maryland, a man who rejected having his criminal record reported walked into The Capital Gazette and killed five employees. 

The founding fathers assured there would be freedom of religion, and from religion, so the government could neither bless nor ban what anyone believes. They secured freedom of speech, to assemble and to petition the government to redress grievances, which is denied by China, North Korea and others.

They also created one freedom that binds and protects all others, and has done so from before the founding of the republic — freedom of the press.

Shielded by truth, journalists for nearly three centuries have been free to jab their pens at those who threaten the First Amendment. Freedom of the press abides in the courage of men and women who report the news, often routine but sometimes unraveling scandals and wrongdoing that the public has every right to know.

Seasoned reporters understand the importance of safeguarding the First Amendment. They know, also, that though telling the truth is made more difficult in these topsy-turvy political times — when truth is flippantly called “lies” and lies are defended as truth — if they do not do their duty, then no one will.

Our reporting wouldn’t be relevant in a vacuum, so we thank the subscribers, newsstand customers and readers who have committed their support to the cause of staying informed.

Without you, there would be no reason for businesses to advertise their products and services. Without you, there would be no value to accurate reporting, watchdog journalism, strong editorials, comprehensive public notices and a free, open public forum for sharing views.

The founding fathers decided more than 240 years ago that if democracy was to function as they intended, there had to be a means to keep tabs on the people’s governments. They adopted the First Amendment to make sure those governments couldn’t hinder the people’s right to know or silence opinions that might not please those in power.

Newspapers remain the top choice for people seeking real news and reliable information. And that’s something worth celebrating.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

  Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and reporters Doug Etten and Michelle Drew.