A perfect example of the importance of journalists presented itself in my hometown of Elbert County, Colo., this week.
A water district was seeking approval of an expansion plan that would allow it to export hundreds of millions of gallons of water out of Elbert County.
The proposal was expected to be voted upon by the county commissioners on Wednesday, Aug. 24. About a 1,000 concerned citizens reportedly showed up at that meeting to voice their opposition. Instead, however, they received the news that the request had been withdrawn – at least temporarily.
According to a news report in The Denver Post on Aug. 25, Elbert County residents for weeks had been questioning “the speed with which the proposal was being considered and the secrecy surrounding it. Little, if anything, was posted on the county website. Some residents said the only information they could find was in newspaper reports.”
Did you catch that last point? Residents didn’t learn about the water district’s plans by looking on the county website. They had to rely on newspaper reports for their information.
This situation reinforces what I’ve always believed. Journalists – whether professionals or citizens – are crucial to keeping our society informed and our government in check.
Susan Cormier is the co-author of the “Handbook for Citizen Journalists” (http://www.citizenjournalistnow.com/om).