It has been many years since Ben Franklin and George Washington considered the question of a government’s support for the news media, and their assessment was that a free flow of information is vital to a healthy democracy. That remains true to this day.

Now, the struggles of America’s newspaper industry have again exposed the nation to a factual information crisis made exponentially worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

When a local newspaper goes out of business, the community it has served for several lifetimes is left essentially in the dark when it comes to important, vetted information about what’s happening in that community.

We are, of course, referring to this newspaper, the one you’re holding in your hands or scanning on our digital platforms. If it’s a copy of the Hanford Sentinel, that flow of local information has been happening since 1886.  Sister papers, the Selma Enterprise and The Kingsburg Recorder have been publishing since 1888 and 1904 respectively.

That’s a lot of years of service to our communities — and it is all in jeopardy, mainly due to revenue losses as advertisers tighten their belts to ride out the coronavirus storm.

The local news and information published on our websites, in email newsletters, and in the printed version of our newspapers serves an essential role in our communities.

In past weeks, our coverage has highlighted the ups and downs of the pandemic.  

It’s all there, day in and day out, and it is information you can rely on to make your transition through this extremely rough stretch, making the journey a little less stressful.

Most of the news in print and on our websites comes exclusively from our local newsroom. That means a lot of the news posted here simply can't be found anywhere else.

Keeping that flow going depends on your continuing support. Your membership in our information club gives you access to exclusive community information and journalism that makes a difference.

And we need your support.

The California News Publishers Association has sent an urgent request to Gov. Gavin Newsom and members of the Legislature seeking grants, loans, sales tax exemptions for local papers, and tax deductions for subscribers and advertisers. 

Like most American businesses today, the news industry needs support to stay afloat for the next several months, which health experts hope will be enough time for the virus curve to flatten and the U.S. economy to ramp back up.

It’s just what Ben Franklin and George Washington were talking about those three centuries ago, that the central issue of any government’s support for the news media is to maintain a free flow of information to the American public, and keeping that flow going is as vital to a healthy democracy as the right to vote.

We’ve been in the business all our lives, and we cannot imagine a functioning society without a fully functioning news media.

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