Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, October 4, 1999

Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

The need for newspapers
in democracy

WHILE cleaning my office, I came across my 1999 Freedom Forum "First Amendment Calendar," filled with quotations about the media and "dedicated to the First Amendment, our nation's foundation for free press, free speech and free spirit." Since I'm in a funk about the scheduled Oct. 30 closing of the Star-Bulletin, the quotes were especially meaningful and brought on great emotion:

Bullet "A people without information is a dead people." -- Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez, Guatemalan official, 1997.

Bullet "If we ever needed a more aggressive, bawdy, nose-under-the-tent, not-respected press, it's now." -- Phil Donahue, former TV talk-show host, 1998.

Bullet "The First Amendment doesn't exist so we can freely praise our public officials. It exists so we can freely criticize our public officials." -- Chris Lamb, educator, 1998.

Bullet "If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there's little point in writing." -- Kingsley Amis, British novelist, 1971.

Bullet "You cannot have a democracy and you cannot have a community if you don't have a way to share ideas." -- Shawn Franks, student, Oakman (Ala.) High School, 1993.

Bullet "Once you start controlling the information to citizens, basically that's the end of the idea of democracy." -- Don Was, music producer, 1998.

Bullet "Newspapers will have to provide, more and more, the analysis that television doesn't have time to provide, to provoke reflection, to make the reader think." -- Marta Gleich, Brazilian editor, 1997.

Bullet "It's easy to embrace freedom of speech for ideas we accept. The essence of freedom of speech and the press is that we must protect the ideas we hate." -- Harriet Pilpel, lawyer, 1986.

Bullet "The media food chain is only as strong as its weakest link." -- Howard Kurtz, media writer, Washington Post, 1998.

Bullet "If you don't like what you're seeing in the news, you probably don't like what's going on in society right now." -- Linda Deutsch, correspondent, Associated Press, 1998.

Bullet "With freedom of speech, the accent is not on the speech itself but the right to say it. And the right of the freedom of the press is the right to read it or hear it." -- Lenny Bruce, comedian, 1965.

Bullet "For the mainstream press to really be able to make a difference in this country, we have to have minorities in positions of power, where they can dictate what's on the front page." -- Elinor Tatum, editor, New York Amsterdam News, 1998.

Bullet "Words have a longer life than deeds." -- Pindar, Greek poet, c. 400 B.C.

Bullet "Our that we in the press and the people in the free world realize and remember that for all the disquiet that can come from a free press, life without it would be much worse." -- Phil Currie, news executive, Gannett Co., 1997.

Bullet "The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man." -- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. president, 1823.

Bullet "The most effective means of ensuring the government's accountability to the people is an aggressive, free, challenging, untrusting press." -- Colin Powell, former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1991.

And my favorite quote:

Bullet "In the end, what journalism companies are selling is their authority as a public asset. And that depends, especially with an ever-skeptical public, on proving you're in it for more than a buck." -- Tom Rosenstiel, director, Project for Excellence in Journalism, 1997.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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