Next week, during National Newspaper Week (Oct. 6-12), we hope our readers will recognize the service of newspapers and their employees to their communities.

Let’s remember that newspapers help readers express themselves and advocate for their causes — personal, political, religious or otherwise.

Newspapers also allow readers to share thoughts and ideas; petition the government; and plan assemblies.

Let’s also remember during the 79th annual National Newspaper Week that not all journalists are free.

According to the U.S., Press Freedom Tracker, journalists in the United States face hostility from local and federal governments, along with a number of legal threats to themselves and their sources.

The nonpartisan website pressfreedomtracker.us provides reliable, easy-to-access information on the number of press freedom violations in the United States—from journalists facing charges to reporters stopped at the U.S. border or asked to hand over their electronics. Even President Trump’s “fake news” accusations are a threat to a free press.

“When journalists are obstructed,” the pressfreedomtracker website reads, “so is the public’s right to be informed and hold power to account.”

We agree. Even though the U.S. has some of the strongest legal free speech protections in the world, the U.S. record is imperfect. Journalists and advocates must defend the First Amendment in courts, in legislatures, and in the media. Constant vigilance and an honest accounting of the country’s track record on press freedom are essential.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker brings together more than two dozen press freedom groups to create a centralized repository for research.

The data gathered by the site helps inform advocacy, journalism, and legal action.

It’s one of the reasons why the National Newspaper Association has established “Know Your 5 Freedoms” — freedom of the press, speech, religion, petition and assembly — as its slogan this year.

Local newspapers help promote and protect those freedoms.

Earlier this year, The News Media Alliance called for news publishers to be granted an antitrust safe harbor to be able to come together to negotiate for better business terms with large digital platforms like Google.

We believe the safe harbor is the best solution to correcting the imbalance in the digital ecosystem and ensuring a sustainable future for digital news.

Why? Tech platforms like Google and Facebook currently do not pay for use of news content like the Lodi Enterprise and Poynette Press, making it increasingly difficult for publishers to reinvest in journalism.

Here’s where you come in: Tell your Congressional representatives to pass the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA) as a way to help celebrate National Newspaper Week.

While we realistically don’t think Congress will pass the Act during National Newspaper Week, we think a focus on the act during National Newspaper Week will focus the efforts of newspaper publishers to be paid for their product.

Join us in celebration National Newspaper Week by celebrating your five freedoms, but also in telling Congress you want to ensure a free press for years to come by passing the JCPA.

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