Newspapers have irreplaceable qualities the Internet doesn't have.


For the last couple of years, every day in the classifieds you include a "cry for help."

We are in danger of losing our newspapers. Now we have the Internet and people seem to think that's all we need. But old-fashioned hard-copy newspapers have certain irreplaceable qualities the Internet doesn't have-and what these are needs to be spelled out.

The Founding Fathers of our nation understood that a well-informed population was essential to a self-governing society of government by the people. Accurate information that all people have access to allows the best decisions to be made. Since then, in the last 200 plus years a whole culture of the press developed.

Newspaper reporters-


• are like the police investigating a crime-they take the necessary time to check and be certain of the facts.

• They are like scientists who do their best to take an objective and neutral viewpoint so their personal feelings don't stand in the way of their finding the truth.

• Like a mediator they listen and take into account all sides.

• "Spin" is not apart of good reporting.


A practice developed of separating reports of the facts from analysis, and that from opinion-first the data, then understanding what it means, then each person expressing what they think needs to be done about it.

Reporters need to be paid so they have the time to do this work.

Newspapers have been called the Fourth Branch of Government, but in fact they are supposed to be independent of government and hopefully of special interests. This gives them the freedom to investigate malfeasance when necessary, to be free to say the truth that needs to be said without being pressured to remain silent.

Newspapers have editors.

When I started writing letters to the editor I became aware of how important and challenging this task is.

Newspaper reporting needs to be brief, concise, accurate and readable. And opinion needs to be the same.

A good editor can read far more than the average person, has good judgment to select what is most important; has a good knowledge of history and a sense of the future.

Compare this to the Internet-

The Internet has no one checking the accuracy of facts. Slipping in false information is easy. Who will check it out? Who will print a correction?

The Internet has no editor; people get overwhelmed--lost in the glut of too much information.

When everyone shares the same information it creates a sense of community--of shared knowledge--and that makes it easier to come to an agreement of what needs to be done.

With the Internet people become little cliques of opinion divided from others.

Newspapers are a hard copy that is much harder to alter than the Internet. It becomes a document-a first draft of history.

Daisy Swadesh


Be proud to live in one of the last bastions of freedom.



I travel mostly but spend a lot of time in San Juan County with which I am impressed. A majority here still know the value of property rights granted to them in the Bill of Rights.

I applaud the rejection of 150 pages of governmental micro-management formerly known as the new land development code.

There are two basic personalities in favor of these codes. First, the well intentioned but woefully uniformed person who thinks individuals are irresponsible and only government and politicians can lead the way to utopia. That is wrong on too many levels to go into here.

The second personality type is a control freak (CF) obsessed with minding everyone else's business down to the most minute detail. CFs have deep feelings of inadequacy for which they are constantly overcompensating.

They live on the verge of feeling embarrassed of themselves, their homes, cars, neighborhood, town, etc. They feel embarrassed of San Juan County and probably lay awake at night fantasizing about how they could make everything beautiful if only they could be the ones in control of everyone else. They hound their local politicians to enact heavy handed land use codes in order to satisfy their obsessions. CFs are frequently influential.

Some even claim to be conservative. One man at the county meeting pontificated that it would be immoral not to pass the code, quoting Pope John Paul II.

Thousands of people have come to San Juan County beginning in the '50's with nothing in their pockets and have done very well for themselves and their families.

Onerous land codes had nothing to do with the county's success. Be proud to live in one of the last bastions of freedom in the state and the country.

Hats off to the county commissioners.

A word of caution though: Unlike the county, there are troubling signs of over zealous governance at Farmington City Hall. You folks who stood up to this land code should shine some light in their direction. Don't let up.


Franklin F. Werter

Durango, Colo.