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Guest Editorial

Independence Day

A declaration made 239 years ago in Pennsylvania crafted with fewer than 1,500 words scrawled on a piece of parchment is the cornerstone of our identity as a country.
Independence - it’s the only thing most of us know and what we take for granted most of all.
We live in a country - as a result of that Fourth of July declaration - that after achieving independence from the British Empire, went on to craft the constitution and 27 amendments to the constitution to ensure equal rights to all people living in our country.
Those rights include due process and freedom of speech. The 13th amendment abolished slavery, and the 19th established a woman’s right to vote in the United States.
We have come a long way since the first Continental Congress signed and delivered the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. But do we realize what great duty we have to make it all worthwhile?
Despite the freedom not to participate that all apathetic Americans enjoy, we have an obligation to take our independence seriously and participate to ensure that we maintain our independence.
Recent events have only served to highlight how precious these rights and freedoms are. These events are also a reminder of how much constant tending, civil engagement, education and discourse it takes to maintain these. There is nothing accomplished by hiding our heads in the sand or pretending an issue does not exist. We need to be constantly building, constantly scrutinizing, constantly maintaining and constantly working to keep our nation moving forward.
This coming weekend, as you visit with family and take part in parades and other celebrations, remember why it is we celebrate this day. It’s not just another holiday from work - though that is a bonus - it’s a symbolic day in American history. On this day, more than 200 years ago our nation was born.

This editorial provided by The Rockdale News, Georgia.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to Highland Elementary’s Community Problem Solving Team for bringing home the first place win at the International Future Problem Solving competition.

A dart to criminals who break in and attack homeowners. We look forward to publishing your arrest information and mug shots.

A laurel to the Johnson County Sheriff’s department for hosting their “All About Me” camp this past week.

A dart to the high cost of college tuition in the United States. The mounting student loans is forcing Americans to postpone marriage, childbearing and home purchases according to a recent report.

A laurel to the Floyd County Circuit Court for maintaining the freeze on Eric C. Conn and the Conn Law Office’s assets. And also maintaining the restraining order against the destruction of any files at the law office.

Guest Editorial

Student loan debt takes economic toll

By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun

The intertwined spiral of college tuition cost and student loan debt is a national problem.
It presents a particular dilemma in Kentucky, which has a long history of low wages and slow growth relative to the rest of the nation. For years the view has been that the path out of this demographic is to produce more college-educated residents. But as college gets pricier, that goal becomes harder to achieve.
Some in the college administrative ranks will tell you that for a time, the ready availability of low-interest, government-backed student loans actually drove the spiral of tuition rates. It became an alternative source of funding as direct government funding fell. The result has been a surge in tuition at a pace well ahead of inflation.
In April we noted the decisions of four Kentucky universities to take maximum or near-maximum allowable tuition increases for the coming year. The Council on Postsecondary Education has imposed a two-year cap of 8 percent on increases in the 2015 and 2016 academic years. The University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University took the full 8 percent. Murray State University and Northern Kentucky University were not far behind at 7.8 percent.
The average cost of tuition and fees to attend a four-year college in Kentucky has now hit $9,188 a year, which is 21st in the nation; that in a state that ranked 45th in per capita income in 2013. Meanwhile a recent CNBC report notes that student loan debt has now risen to $1.2 trillion. The network reports there are now 40 million Americans with student loan debt. The average balance owed is $29,000.
Further complicating this picture is a recent survey by Discover Student Loans that finds fewer parents planning to help pay for their children's college, even though most agree that a college degree is extremely important to their child's future. About 77 percent of parents said they would help pay for their child's college education, down from 81 percent a year ago.
A recent Gallup poll found that college funding for children is now American parents' top money concern. Gallup says the 73 percent of parents who worry about having money to fund college for children younger than 18 tops by several percentage points the number two top concern of most Americans, which is having enough money for retirement.
All of these factors suggest that dependence on more and larger student loans will continue to be a problem. And that's not a good thing as far as the economy is concerned.
The CNBC report says mounting student loan debt "is ricocheting through the United States, now affecting institutions and economic patterns that have been at the core of America's very might." Specifically, the report says the debt is forcing Americans to postpone marriage, childbearing and home purchases. It also is limiting the number of young people who attempt to start a business or pursue other entrepreneurial goals.
The debt thus undercuts the opportunity and social mobility higher education has long promised, thereby contributing to and even worsening economic inequality, CNBC says.
College remains essential, however, to students' long-term prospects. In 2012, full-time workers with bachelor's degrees earned 60 percent more than workers with a high school diploma.
The cycle of soaring tuition and mounting student loan debt needs to be broken. But it's going to take resolve on the part of the state councils that oversee colleges to make it happen. One hopes they are starting to feel the pressure to act.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to West Point-hopeful Matthew O’Bryan and Johnson County Schools for going above and beyond to give everyone at home something to be proud of.

A dart to the bad weather which caused the Relay for Life to be rescheduled for June 26, 6 p.m. at JCHS. It’s hard to wait for fun.

A laurel to the 2015 graduating class of Carl D. Perkins Vocational Training Center for their perseverance in fighting the good fight.

A dart to boozers, users, and general abusers who risk their own lives and the lives and property of others.

A laurel to law enforcement officers with the Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Dept. and the Paintsville Police Dept. for doing a tough job that keeps us all safe. Thank you!

Guest Editorial

Don’t write print’s
obituary yet

By Forrest Berkshire
The Kentucky Standard

The Pew Research Center for Journalism & Media recently released its “State of the Media” report for 2015, and some of its findings are surprising, even for those of us who are in the industry.
It seems much of the conversation in recent years has been about the shift of readers to digital, especially mobile. The mantra “print is dead” has become cliché. Any time a newspaper announces a layoff in its newsroom or a publicly traded company reports lower earnings, “experts” line up on television and online to write our obituary.
But according to Pew’s report this year, print is far from dead.
In fact, the study reported that in 2014, 56 percent of readers got their news from print only. In total, it found, more than eight in 10 of those who read a newspaper read the printed edition, at least sometimes. Only 5 percent read newspapers exclusively on mobile devices.
Newspapers have been rightfully criticized for not adjusting with the times, and in many cases are suffering self-inflicted wounds from years past. We were the ones who took to the Internet in the 1990s and started giving away our content for free. What that strategy mostly accomplished was engendering reader expectations that news is free.
Journalism, if done right, is expensive. And even in 2015, online ad revenue does not even come close to adequately funding a news operation. There are a few online-only news outlets that are making enough to keep the lights and servers on. But most of them are not in the serious business of reporting. Many of them aggregate original reporting done by other news sources, basically acting as middle-men who don’t pay their suppliers. Others have found their own niche. For instance, the majority of the contributors to the Huffington Post are unpaid. Buzzfeed, one of the most widely read online “news” sites, made its name and reputation through catchy little lists called listicles. A small sample of the headlines on Buzzfeed from Saturday include “18 times Hillary Clinton thought the same as you about dessert,” “The super charmed life of Instagram’s hottest guy,” “Can you guess the ‘Gilmore Girls’ episode based on the screencap” and “16 reasons why you should drop what you’re doing and stand outside while the sun sets.”
From a business perspective, Buzzfeed is working. It draws more than 175 million monthly unique visitors. It has recently tried to tackle more serious, traditional news, with mixed success.
There are many talented writers on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and the ever-growing number of sites that attempt to emulate them. I have clicked on their articles several times and enjoyed what I’ve read.
But with few exceptions, substantive news reports that affect our country and the world are still generated from newspapers. It was a newspaper that first started digging and ultimately revealed that 40 U.S. Armed Forces veterans had died while waiting for care at a Veterans Administration hospital, and ultimately led to revelations of wrongdoing throughout the system. It was newspapers that took the information from former CIA contractor Edward Snowden and did the reporting that put into context the scope of the National Security Agency’s collection of information on U.S. citizens. Every day, newspapers large and small are investigating issues that affect people’s lives.
That work is labor intensive, and labor takes money.
That is why the Pew Center’s 2015 report on print readership was encouraging, at least in that aspect, because it is still the print product that pays the bills. It also shows many of the challenges we have fought over the last decade remain or are accelerating. Circulation continues to struggle industry wide. Advertising revenue continues to fall as many companies shift their spending to digital. And newsrooms continue to lose jobs, although at a slower pace than in recent years.
But it is premature to write print’s obituary.
And that’s a good thing not only for newspapers, but for an informed public, and even for the many online outlets that continue to “repurpose” and “aggregate” our content while siphoning away ad dollars. Because when our obituary is finally written, journalism’s won’t be far behind, and all we will be left with is misinformed opinion and infotainment.

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