A free press


10/11/2019, 6 a.m.
The Richmond Free Press joins publications across the nation this week in observing the 79th Annual National Newspaper Week.

The Richmond Free Press joins publications across the nation this week in observing the 79th Annual National Newspaper Week.

This year’s theme is “Think F1rst — Know Your 5 Freedoms.”

It is a homage to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the five basic freedoms it protects: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Those freedoms are guaranteed to all people and are critical to our democracy today just as when they were written into the cornerstone document of America democracy.

At the Free Press, we take those freedoms seriously, particularly in this troubling time when authorities from the White House to city and town halls across the country seek to abridge or deny those freedoms. Others, including corporate giants and monied interests, twist those rights in their efforts to buy and influence public opinion and legislation.

The Free Press remains dedicated to the vision and mission of our founder, the late Raymond H. Boone, who launched the first edition of the Free Press 27 years ago as an independent voice amid a landscape of newspaper monopolies. He was a true First Amendment advocate and believed Richmond needed “a strong gust of fresh air to vigorously fan the expression of ideas about public policy and, in the process, to encourage wide-open, uninhibited debate.”

He also decried what he saw as a lack of respect for the First Amendment that he said had frustrated free expression in Richmond, particularly in the African-American community. Because of that, the entire community suffers by “failing to allow society to benefit from thoughts and ideas of the people.”

He established the Free Press to reverse that through a dedication to fairness and justice; to a willingness to stand against evil, including racism; to holding politicians accountable; and to working for the revitalization of Downtown.

This mission has served to produce a long string of positive results. They include news stories and editorials that, among many other accomplishments across nearly three decades, have caused: A Richmond judge who used racist comments on the internet to immediately resign; the rewriting of the city and state code that expunged unfair gender references; the abandonment of plans to relocate the city’s Main Post Office to the suburbs; and the exposure that contributed significantly to the granting of a gubernatorial pardon to a wrongly convicted Richmond man on a murder charge.

In recognition of National Newspaper Week that ends Oct. 12, we hope our readers will stand with us, one of the few remaining independent news sources in Virginia, in knowing, embracing, using and advocating for the freedoms outlined in the First Amendment.

Our democracy will thrive only if we continue to protect those freedoms.