It was announced last week by Pew Research that employment at newspapers across the nation had, in the last decade, declined by almost 50 percent. With that and corresponding numbers of newspapers closing down around the nation, I thought how fortunate we are in Warren County to be served by four media outlets, including our own nearly two-year-old Royal Examiner online newspaper.
Washington Post writer Margaret Sullivan said it best in a recent column: “The dire (Pew) numbers play out in ugly ways: public officials aren’t held accountable; town budgets go unscrutinized; experienced journalists are working at Walmart, or not at all, instead of plying their much-needed trade in their communities.”
The Pew study came after the New York Daily News announced a 50-percent reduction in its newsroom staff; and the world’s largest news service, The Associated Press (for which I once worked), amalgamated certain domestic bureaus and effected layoffs across the country. Pew reported that employment in newspaper newsrooms between 2008 and this year declined 45 percent.
Sullivan summed it up with these words: “One problem with losing local news coverage is that we never know what we don’t know. Corruption can flourish, taxes can rise, public officials can indulge their worst impulses.”
But not so, at least so far, in Warren County where the Royal Examiner and its three print brethren continue to provide a rich and varied coverage of local affairs.
How fortunate we are!
After plying a journalism and public relations career for 70 years I’ve learned this truism: that newspapers help maintain a degree of honesty and integrity in the governments they cover, be it at the local or national level.
Journalists continue to be not an enemy of the people as has been suggested from on high, but a guardian of the people’s affairs. My colleagues and other local journalists I know today, as the scores of journalists I’ve worked with over the years did before them, continue to tell it as it is.
For the most part, the so-called “fake news” springs only from fake information spewed by politicians satisfying their own spurious ends. There are occasions, both nationally and locally, when media outlets have stumbled or consciously allowed themselves to be used as tools of those in the halls of power. But more often than not, their fellow media and the public at large have caught them in the act and held them up to public scrutiny for their failures or indiscretions.
How fortunate we are in our corner of the world to continue to have a small band of reporters and editors honestly working for the public good from four separate newspapers.
To them, and to their publishers, a tip of my hat, one and all.
(The writer, who retired to Rockland in 2002, is a contributing writer at the Royal Examiner. He spent 25 years working for newspapers in three countries, including a 10-year stint with the world’s largest news service, The Associated Press. He also completed a quarter century as a public affairs officer with various federal government departments in Washington D.C. as well as two years as a U.S. Senate press secretary.)
Today is Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter
Today is Maundy Thursday. Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). This is the “mandatum”… our mandate as Christians to serve others. He washed His apostles feet and went out to a garden to pray. He asked them to watch, but they fell asleep. Jesus was arrested, tried, beaten, spit upon, and humiliated beyond words… our Lord… our Teacher… who taught servant-hood and love.
All during the night, He would be humiliated and tortured, and have placed upon His head a crown… one of thorns. More painful was the abandonment… the men He taught… the twelve… abandoned Him.
People abandon Him daily by living sinful lives. We have the chance now to show our love by following His “mandatum”… to become a servant… to serve… to love… to proclaim Jesus as our Savior.
Does the cock crow for me… or ye? I pray not… (reference verse: Luke 22:34).
Reverend Larry W. Johnson
Front Royal, VA
FRIBA encourages all of our community to be more compassionate about our current state of affairs
Over the past month, Front Royal and Warren County have encountered a financial crisis that threatens the balance in our community. This crisis affects the trust we have in our elected and appointed officials, which could further jeopardize the faith that we have had in our systems and in our fellow citizens.
As an independent business organization, The Front Royal Independent Business Alliance (FRIBA) encourages all of our community to be more level headed and compassionate about our current state of affairs. We must remain strong, use our character, our leadership and our discipline as examples for others to follow. We must have faith and understanding and avoid the madness of the crowd during this difficult period. We need to find solutions through facts, not repeating rumors. The results of these compassionate actions will help us heal and become stronger.
We encourage everyone to study the issues, avoid the negative crowds and social media mudslinging, and strive for the positives. We need to count our blessings, lean on each other for support and compassion. Together we can learn from the mistakes from this period of time and seek to improve what we have. Be a constructive leader, a sound business person and a faithful follower of the good that will result.
We ask that you put aside the pettiness and blatant criticism of the innocent, their families and their rumored guilt. Rumors can hurt families and the county’s overall reputation. The courts will find the guilty and they will suffer, rightfully so. We ask that you also remain vigilant as good citizens, so that these mistakes will not ever happen again.
Remember your family, your faith and your community, and share your kindnesses every day! Together we as a community will survive and become stronger.
The Board of Directors of FRIBA
George McIntyre, Craig Laird, Arline Link, Patricia Moore, Michael Swauger, Mike McCool
A “nothing” in a tomb, rising in glory
A recent article, “A Place Of Lost History And Identity”, addressed the search for the graves/markers/names of those buried in an African- American cemetery. Highlighted was one Carolyn Jenkins.
It really touched my heart, for this lady was at the “bottom” of the social and economic “ladders” – a “nothing” if you will. For she was a slave, knowing only bondage to her master(s). An almost miraculous chain of events, though, brought her freedom and its promises, including citizenship and being a land owner!
Her marker reads, “And the finger of God touched her and she slept”. This, to me, would say she knew of and possibly believed in Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Jesus said of Lazarus that “he sleeps”, but later added that “Lazarus is dead”.
So, Carolyn is to be considered dead; her body art rest “in the Lord”. Another miraculous event took place. Jesus called out, “Lazarus come forth”, and he came out of his tomb! Folks, this is beyond miraculous, it is something only God can do. And because Jesus has the power, even Carolyn is subject to His awesome words: “…all those in the grave shall hear my voice and shall come forth”!
Yes, yes, Carolyn is even now in the presence of Jesus and her body will rise from its tomb. Jesus said, “…because I live ye shall live also”.
Folks, this is what Easter (Resurrection Sunday) is all about. A “nothing” in an old, lost tomb rising in glory to everlasting life and joy in the presence of God our Saviour! Lost and forgotten? Never! He won’t forget us, for He is preparing a white stone bearing a new name for each one of us.
Well, to say a New name means He must know/remember the Old name. Think about that! A totally new and everlasting I.D., if you will!
When we get to heaven, if I can remember her name, I could look her up! In that event, I wonder if she might say, “Jess, I sure do like your letter”.
Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia
OPINION: Warren County Board of Supervisors has a problem with prioritizing projects
Warren County Board of Supervisors has a problem with prioritizing projects. Having worked in private business and managing millions of dollars in annual budgets, it appears that we approach things very differently. I had to deal with a fixed budget and make my expenditures fit a budget. The Warren County Board set the expenditures and raise taxes to cover those cost without regard of what the tax base can support or its justification. Do they even calculate what each project will cost tax payers? Does the County Administrator give any guidance?
In recent years, more and more projects and expenditures have been added that cannot be justified by our tax base. We all would like to have more things from our government, but at what cost? All projects should be guided by our tax base and the ability to support them without unreasonable tax increases.
Part of my job was to set staffing levels. I find myself observing the numbers of people doing certain tasks. A recent letter about the Sheriffs department staffing was spot on! I have observed a ridiculous number of employees doing jobs that need only one or two people. Who sets staffing level for the county? Are staffing level compared to similar jurisdictions? Are the different branches required to justify staffing? Every branch of county government needs oversite in staffing and expenditures.
Front Royal, Virginia
He arose: Jesus, The mighty God, The everlasting Father
Once again, we celebrate the most amazing thing in the history of the world: more accurately known as Resurrection Sunday. A man known to be dead and sealed in a tomb arose from the dead! Yes, a dead man came back to life! And as astounding as this is, of even greater significance is who he is!
Who is he! The man called by the names of Jesus, Jesus Christ, The Messiah, The Lamb Of God and The Son Of God, among many others.
Regarding the meaning and significance of a name, the dictionary defines such as: a word by which a person, thing, animal, class or concept is distinctly known or referred to; to identify. Thus, a name identifies/defines exactly what or who the subject is. What or who the name is referring or “pointing” to is shown by the article preceding it. An Indefinite article (a, an) points to any or all of two or more. However, the Definite article (the) points to exactly, specifically, uniquely and only one! Example: The Moon.
In this regard, Jesus, by His acts and words. identified himself as the One who is by name: God! Scripture speaks to this in Isaiah 9:6; “…a child is born, a Son is given… his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father.” Truly, God on earth! So this is how and who He is called and named; who He is and what He is! The perfect Trinity. Fully Man! Fully God!
But He didn’t die and rise again simply because, being God, He could. So, why? Well, let me direct your attention to a love song that could seem to speak to the very heart of God in this regard. “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, only dark clouds when she’s away… this house ain’t like no home anytime she goes away.” Can you feel/sense the pain, anguish, the sense of loss and perhaps, even, a broken heart? In death this certainly speaks to the agony of it all. For it’s not just WHEN, but NOW THAT and SINCE she is gone! (add: to stay). Allow me a personal note. My darling love of my life is “gone”. She “went away” to stay. After several years now, and after crying out for her, my love for her won’t enable me to bring her home. Truly, this house ain’t like no home now that she’s “gone”; “away”. The picture of despair?
Consider: Mankind “died” to God in the Garden of Eden. In a very real sense mankind “went away”—“gone”—to stay! So due to His great love, He was surely and profoundly impacted by the sense of loss and the anguish of it all! Thus it is safe to say that even God’s house “ain’t like no home” since we “went away”! Might it be ventured to say that we (mankind) broke God” heart?
The reason He came? LOVE! Being God, His loss was not necessarily irreparable or unlimited, but to find us, give us life and take us home would cost Him His own life! Yet, He would not be denied, for He said, “I will not give you up, for I am God and not man.”
For me, this means that although my darling is “away” from me, she is home now; and alive! She is alive!
And as for those who are still “away” in the darkness of spiritual death, know that Jesus, The mighty God, The everlasting Father came to where we are. He is waiting for you. Isn’t it time to go home?
OPINION: Thoughts on previous Letter to the Editor regarding the electoral college
The recent letter to the editor regarding the Electoral College and the attempt by “Democrats” to “violate” the Constitution ignores the very history of the document and our republic. The funders recognized their own fallibility and gave future generations the ability to amend that very document. For example, the Constitution has been amended to allow for the direct election of U.S. Senators (something the funding father had not intended). We have made changes to give women the right to vote, to give citizens age 18 and above the right to vote, to give former slaves the right to vote. None of these were included in the original Constitution.
Eliminating the Electoral College would require a Constitutional Amendment, which is by definition Constitutional. Changing the way states apportion their electors does not require a Constitutional Amendment as the document makes clear this is a matter that is left to the states to determine for themselves. Most states award all their electors to whichever candidate wins a majority of the popular vote in their sate but not all do. Some split their electoral votes.
States are also equally within their Constitutional rights to award all their electors to the candidate that wins the national popular vote. We can disagree about the merit of this proposal, but it is certainly not illegal or unconstitutional. A national popular vote would mean that every vote in every state counts equally. Presidential candidates would be incentivized to go after all our votes and not focus on a handful of swing states as they do now. I am very respectful of the wisdom of the founding fathers and I am hesitant to alter our current system, but I see merit on both sides and no reason to attack or demonize anyone.
Front Royal, Virginia