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Front Royal – a rare, four newspaper town



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.)



  1. James

    August 14, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Great article and we are fortunate.

    My greatest concern is whether a community our size can support economically 4 news organizations. These groups depend on local advertising dollars to survive which is somewhat limited in a community our size. This opens up an opportunity for political pressure to limit coverage on certain stories that might reflect poorly on political power bases in the community.

    This takes the form of not advertising or influencing other business to stop advertising thus restricting the reporting on certain stories. A recent example of this happened publicly when a group in the community called for a boycott of readership and the threat of boycotting of businesses advertising in the paper. This has also happened regarding tax and other revenue-generating issues that were covered by the press that was revealing to the public of the self-serving nature of our elected officials.
    This truly is a tough time for all media nowadays. I can only image how tough it is here in little Front Royal, I wish them the best of luck.

  2. Leonard Sherp

    August 12, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Thanks, Malcolm, for a wonderfully written piece, and for pointing out how lucky we are to have such great local coverage from our different media here in the region. It is important for everyone first to understand, and then to step up and vigorously defend the institution that is the free press, without which democracy can not survive and which currently is under constant attack from those whose charges of “fake news” and “enemy of the people” aim to hide hypocrisy, misdeeds, corruption, and policies of division and cruelty unworthy of our great nation.

  3. Phillip Gregory Rice

    August 10, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    When you distort what the Pres. has said ” fake news is the enemy of the people” you create fake news. You have made a conscious decision to misrepresent another persons statement and then represent your troubled thoughts as his. I believe that that fact is not attractive or truthful. What happened to who, what, when, where and how. I think another trip to college would be called for but they are mostly socialist right now and would applaud your indiscretion.

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Elections Matter?



Last week, the Stephens City Town Council appeared to take a page from the GOP playbook when they decided to confiscate powers from the newly elected mayor, Michael Diaz. The Council voted to remove powers given to the Mayor by the town charter and transfer them to the town manager.

Mr. Diaz was elected in November to the mayoral position, but the Town Council took it upon themselves to strip the new Mayor of supervisory duties and relegate his role to being “consulted for general advice.”

This unfortunate notion that one party believes their views so correct that they justify usurping the public’s will expressed by voters seems to reflect the Republican view that has seized power in other instances across the country. Apparently, patriotism does not extend to voter representation when it conflicts with the Republican right to rule.

Steve Foreman
Chair, Warren County Democratic Committee

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What Christmas is all about: “We cannot go to Him; He had to come to us”



Wonderful? Marvelous? Glorious? What words could adequately describe the experience of yet another Christmas?

Yes, Christmas, the celebration of His birth. Whose birth? God’s birth! God incarnate, the God-Man!

Yes, the God of the Bible, the One and only God who created all that exists, including creating and breathing life into man.

Yes, the only and very God who walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden Of Eden! The Scriptures speak of Him as the One “whose going forth are from of old, from everlasting.”

But why? His own great love and nature compelled Him to do so, for mankind had fallen into sin and was lost and separated from Him. The result was that death came upon all men, not only physically but spiritually as well.

For scripture says man became a living soul, and the soul that sins will die. Further, it says “there is none that sinneth not, no, not one.”

Thus, being/having a soul, we are all lost and without hope of living and escaping death. Perishing is where we find ourselves. Our situation: we cannot remove the stain of sin and thus perfect ourselves before God and His law. We cannot find Him. He has to find us.

Further, being temporal, physical beings we are unable to approach Him, and, however earnest and pure in thought, plead our case to Him.

We do not have such standing before His holy, righteous and majestic throne. Simply put, WE CANNOT GO TO HIM. Simply put again, HE HAD TO COME TO US!

And that is what Christmas is all about. He saw that mankind needed deliverance; hence, a Saviour, a Redeemer. God delivered! And because of the babe in the manger, I and all others who accept Him can shout with the hymnal writer, who, in speaking to our physical deaths, says; “….this robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize!”

God’s gift is eternal life, never to die. Death has been swallowed up in victory!

Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA

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Jesus, Miracle Worker



Seeing the words, “I make beer disappear” on a man’s shirt, I asked him if he worked miracles since he was able to make beer disappear, and he replied that all he did was put it in his tummy and his tummy did the rest.

Miracles? I immediately thought about Jesus, the greatest miracle worker of all the ages. It was, however, about water, not beer. Not only did he make it disappear, he turned it into wine!

Jesus said that he was doing things that no man had ever done before, which helps people understand that he was saying that he was God; saying “If you can’t believe my words, believe for my works’ sake!”

As God, Jesus could say, “I am the light of the world, and he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” And further, that he would lay down his life for his sheep; indicating the path he would take in order to bestow eternal life to his sheep.

Being God, Jesus could ask when healing the man with palsy, “Which is easier to say, your sins be forgiven you, or take up your bed and walk?” The Jews had just remarked that God alone can forgive sins. Well, only God could do either one! Jesus said further that he said what he did in order that “…you might know that the Son of Man has the power on earth to forgive sin,” saying, in effect, I am God!

But how could God give his life for mankind; who, having spurned his love in the Garden Of Eden, continues to reject him to serve other Gods? Well, God says it’s not about us (who are as filthy rags in his sight; therefore, nothing to love) but all about him. For he said; “I am God and not man!” So in his perfect love he loves us IN SPITE OF our sinfulness and unworthiness. So, can you possibly fathom that God; yes,  Almighty God, the Heavenly Father, in order to “win back” his lost love, came “courting” to regain what was lost to him? Remember that the Scriptures say, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” Truly, he must be saying, “Be Mine!” Believe and follow me and I will give you the water of life and you will never thirst again; and the bread of life and you will never be hungry again; and not only will you never die, I will never leave you nor forsake you!

It’s been said that to love someone you must get to know them. Well, Jesus knows us through and through because he created us! Could it be then, that he doesn’t love us as we are but for what we have the potential to become as the result of the workings of a wondrous miracle of God; or more pointedly, from “the touch of the Master’s hand?”

Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA

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Veteran: Jennifer Lewis will protect health care for those with pre-existing conditions



To the Editor:

I have been fortunate to count so many veterans as friends and family. As a veteran myself, I am familiar with the many sacrifices these men and women make for our country. I never experience combat myself, but I know some veterans who have and some still carry those scars with them suffering from PTSD or struggling with substance abuse. This issue got my attention recently with a shocking statistic. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have resulted in nearly 6,000 combat deaths of our service members. In that same period over 200,000 veterans have committed suicide, twice the rate of non-veterans.

On November 6th we go to the polls to pick our leaders in Congress. Leaders who will decide the future of health care, including mental health care, in this country. In the 6th district, one candidate wants to eliminate health care coverage for 20 million Americans and strip us of protections for pre-existent conditions, including PTSD. His opponent is a mental health care worker who has promised to expand access to health care for all and to protect health care for those with pre-existent conditions. That candidate is Jennifer Lewis.

Jorge Amselle
Front Royal, VA 
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With Trump, America is winning



Two years ago this week, Democrats were stunned when they lost in strongholds they had taken for granted. We recall that, after candidate Clinton had mocked Trump voters as “deplorables,” she went on to brand them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.”

Yes, these are the same miserable folks whom Obama, as president, had called “bitter” because “they cling to guns or religion.”

After all that, one wonders, how could these deplorable losers not vote for Hillary?

Well, we didn’t. And you’d think Democrats had learned their lesson – but they’re at it again. Left-wing bigotry abounds. An MSNBC commentator of color asserts that white men are the most likely terrorists – referring perhaps to John Hodgkinson, the Democrat Bernie Sanders volunteer who attempted to massacre an entire baseball field of Republican Congressmen last year. Or to the Antifa terrorists who brutally attacked a group of Young Republicans waiting to hear a conservative speaker at Cal-Berkeley (yes, those the terrorists were indeed white, a fact revealed only after they were arrested and forced to remove their masks and body armor).

Despite their stinging loss in 2016, this year’s Democrats are more radical than ever. Their heroes preach socialism, but socialist Bernie Sanders won’t answer when asked about Venezuela, where socialism has brought the vast majority of the population to the point of starvation, and the inflation rate is somewhere between 25,000% and 30,000%.

(To make sure you’re still distracted, this past Tuesday Socialist Sanders called Trump “the most racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted president in history.” He has nothing left but epithets).

Why do our socialist Democrat friends want you to ignore Venezuela? Because they don’t want you to know that socialism means government ownership and control of the economy, which invariably leads to economic and social collapse.

However, if you do happen to believe that government can run your life better than you can, be sure to vote for them.

Socialism’s bad enough – but wait, there’s more. Hillary “passionately” wants to change the Constitution so Democrats can win more easily. Virginia’s own Senator Tim Kaine, her 2016, running mate, is just as extreme, sporting a 100% approval rating from the National Abortion “Rights” Action League, a group that considers unborn babies fair game for the abortionist until they are entirely out of the womb.

The Left’s tsunami of epithets is designed to distract us not only from the Democrats’ record, but from Donald Trump’s. And it not surprising, when you take a look at the how things have changed in America since January 2017.

Democrats and their elite establishment friends don’t want you to notice the accomplishments that have benefited our neighbors of all classes, colors ethnic groups, and denominations. Obama’s dreary, anemic economy is now history. In the past two years, four 4 million new jobs have been created. Economic growth last quarter hit 4.2 percent. New unemployment claims recently hit a 49-year low. Median household income has hit the highest level ever recorded. African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American unemployment rates have reached the lowest rate ever recorded. Women’s unemployment recently reached its lowest rate in 65 years. Almost 3.9 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.

Trump’s tax reform means that small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years. With the doubling of the Standard Exemption, millions of families will no longer have to itemize deductions (and pay an accountant to file their taxes).

And here’s a gem they won’t mention. After years of demanding that Republicans must “tax the rich,” Democrats in states like California, New York, and New Jersey, are complaining because Trump’s tax reform does raise taxes the rich – raises them so much, in fact, that Democrat state legislators are already hard at work trying to get around it.

Donald Trump’s policy improvements are not limited to the booming economy. He has reversed the pro-abortion policies of the Clinton and Obama Administrations that sent millions in US taxpayer funds to fund abortions in Third World countries. He has freed religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor from the onerous pro-abortion policies of Obamacare. He has appointed two sterling Supreme Court justices who will consider cases according to the Constitution, and not the agenda of the Democratic National Committee. He has defended the rule of law and demands that foreigners obey our laws when entering the US, just like the rest of us do here at home. After years of bipartisan weakness, he has confronted China and other trading partners to demand a level playing field in trade – resulting in tens of thousands of jobs being brought back to the United States from overseas

And, yes, he has striven to Make America Great Again.

The radical Democrats don’t want you to know about Trump’s successes, so they’re using a massive campaign of media and online censorship of that news, while blaring Hillary’s and Bernie’s vapid stream of epithets at every opportunity. When words don’t work, they send in mobs to harass and even assault law-abiding Americans. Who knows, maybe they think we’ll be so ashamed of clinging to our Bibles and guns, deplorable bigots that we are – maybe we’ll just be ashamed to show our face at the polls on election day!

What’s at the bottom of their hatred? A simple fact: they were supposed to win in 2016. They controlled the media, the radical college and university faculties, Internet social media (with Facebook, Twitter, and Google “shadow-blocking” millions of conservative users), the “Deep State” bureaucracies, the government and public school unions, the billion-dollar foundations, Hollywood and entertainment – it’s all theirs.

And they still lost.

It boils down to this: even though Democrats control virtually every sector of the American establishment, they still can’t win elections.

And it drives them nuts.

Christopher Manion
Warren County

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A positive choice for the future



We know who he is now, we know he will never become presidential. We know who his base is, and we know he will do whatever it takes to keep them stimulated. But he represents all Americans. He is the most powerful person in the world and a word from him can shake governments and stock markets. We deserve more than lies and bigotry from our president.

We also know that he is supposed to work for the entire United States. Whether he acknowledges it or not, or whether we like it or not, he is supposed to speak for all of us.

From that first escalator ride, to Charlottesville, and recently, his inability to acknowledge domestic terrorism, plainly, he is not concerned about the consequences he provokes. His only concern about the recent attacks are the effects on his “campaign”. He is trapped in a zero-sum mindset where allowing access to healthcare or freedom or diversity for some subtracts somehow from his own interests. Placing trust in such a con artist can only lead to bad outcomes.

Without much resistance, his party followed him down this path. They make excuses for inexcusable behavior. Consequently, we see hate crimes have dramatically increased.

This election season we must investigate the contrast between the party of Trump and the Democratic Party. Democrats have emerged as the party of healthcare for all, wider opportunities for those who want them, and personal freedom. The Democrats do not need to lie about their support for expansion of medical care, environmental safety and a more just society.

The choices could not be clearer this November. The Democratic Party has a vision that includes instead of rejects. Working for the best outcomes for everyone creates positive change. If you want to progress beyond a 19th century outlook, look to the Democratic candidates for new ideas and options.

Steve Foreman

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