The following is the text of the editorial I wrote for the first-ever edition of the Falls Church News-Press published on March 28, 1991. The reference to “our publisher,” of course, is to me. The editorial is followed by the seven points it refers to.
A NEWSPAPER OF RECORD
By Nicholas F. Benton
Falls Church Vice Mayor Brian O’Connor responded to the news of the birth of this newspaper at the March 11 City Council meeting by quoting Thomas Jefferson.
Following our publisher’s announcement at that meeting of plans to begin our weekly publication this month, Mr. O’Connor remarked, “Thomas Jefferson said if he had a choice between a nation without a government and a nation without newspapers, he’d sooner choose a nation without a government.”
Truly, a free press is an indispensable component of a democratic society, and in the City of Falls Church, where political tugs of war rage with such infamous ferocity, the environment is not complete without the kind of newspaper we shall strive to be.
Our publisher saw this last year, when, despite one of the most hotly-contested City Council elections in the City’s history, there was no public medium by which the voters could learn quickly of the outcome of the election. So he initiated the idea, and rallied the support of many within the community, to produce “Election Night Live,” a three-hour live television program that aired on Falls Church’s own Channel 38, to bring not only the results as they were counted, but also all the personalities involved in the election, directly before the public.
Some would argue the vision began back when our publisher produced his own newspaper at age 8, and sold news of the goings-on in his household to the neighbors in his tiny community of 300 — much to the chagrin of his parents. Others would argue it began the day he moved to Falls Church in 1985, in the midst of a life-long career as a journalist, and found this vital community without its own “newspaper of record.” The long and short of it is that, to those who know him, our publisher truly has “printer’s ink flowing in his veins.”
THE 7-POINT PLATFORM
1. Keep the news clean and fair. 2. Play no favorites, never mix business and editorial policy. 3. Do not let the news columns reflect editorial comment. 4. Publish the news that is public property without fear or favor of friend or foe. 5. Accept no charity and ask no favors. 6. Give “value received” for every dollar you take in. 7. Make the paper show a profit if you can, but above all keep it clean, fearless and fair.