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Chihak: Free press needed to keep democracy alive

One-third of Americans think the media have "too much freedom," according to the First Amendment Center's latest survey on the state of the First Amendment, done last fall.

One-third of Americans think the media have "too much freedom," according to the First Amendment Center's latest survey on the state of the First Amendment, done last fall.

Societal polarization has made news reporting a hazard, at best, in 2008.

And we’ve only just begun, with the most intense parts of the campaigns – presidential, state, local – and other local, state and national budget and fiscal issues still to come.

But already the cry is that the media are liberally biased or are covering the wrong issues or are ignoring those few politicians in the white hats or . . .

Some of that probably comes from the estimated one-third of Americans who think the media have “too much freedom,” according to the First Amendment Center’s latest survey on the state of the First Amendment, done last fall.

To be exact, 34 percent of those surveyed chose the “too much freedom” response, the lowest percentage in the 11 years of the annual survey.

Truth be told, the free press, flawed as it may be, is more important than ever in efforts to keep democracy alive.

What with the sheriff up Phoenix way running roughshod with the people’s money and interests and the president approving of torture, we need all the press freedom there is.

Imagine not knowing that the Pima County Board of Supervisors put a cap on the budget this week. We told you about it.

Imagine not knowing that hundreds of Tucson police officers were disciplined for infractions in the last five years. We told you about it months back.

Imagine not knowing how city of Tucson elected officials continue to fumble downtown redevelopment opportunities. We tell you about it frequently.

These local stories may not sound as important as the war in Iraq or illegal FBI domestic wiretapping or an administration only too willing to provide billions in taxpayer money to bail out financial institutions.

But they are important because they are ours, and they have implications for our future just as the national issues do.

That’s why we keep telling them to you, day in and day out.

Staff wins 16 Press Club awards
Praise be to Tucson Citizen staff members who won 16 awards in the 2007 Arizona Press Club Contest at a Phoenix banquet earlier in May.

News reporter and columnist Ryn Gargulinski won the Don Schellie Award for column writing. The award is named for the late Citizen columnist.

First-place awards: science writer Alan Fischer for “Valley Fever may be coming”; news reporter B. Poole for “Discouraging words: local ranching fades”; copy editor Dave Petruska for feature story headlines.

Second-place awards: Poole in business reporting; government reporter Garry Duffy for an electronic voting story; courts reporter A. J. Flick for a public safety story; basketball writer Steve Rivera for a University of Arizona coaching story; football writer John Moredich for an athletics and academics story.

Third-place prizes went to Gargulinski for public safety reporting; metro columnist Anne T. Denogean for news column writing; Night Editor Bill Clemens for news headlines.

Third-place awards in photography went to Photo Editor P.K. Weis for spot news photography; senior photographer Francisco Medina for general news photography and pictorial photography; Xavier Gallegos for feature photography.

Hearty congratulations to these fine Citizen journalists.

Reach Michael A. Chihak at 573-4646 or mchihak@tucsoncitizen.com

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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