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October 27, 2005

Mr. Scott Faust, Executive Editor
The Salinas Californian
123 West Alisal Street
Salinas, California 93901

Keeping Our Freedom

Dear Scott:

As a sometime critic of the media, as well as a regular writer for the Californian, it is time to offer well-deserved praise. The October 27, 2005, issue of the Salinas Californian has exhibited top honors for presenting "real news" - which readers may recall was defined in my March 3, 2004 Integrity Matters weekly column. Journalist-historian Richard Reeves defined "real news," as "the news you and I need to keep our freedoms."  Take some time and review the contents of The Salinas Californian for Thursday, October 27, 2005.  Throughout the publication, readers were presented with news that would help strengthen the society we can so easily take for granted, to keep our freedoms.

The October 27 issue can be objectively evaluated by discovering answers to these three questions: 1. What portion of the news coverage is essential to our freedoms? 2. What percentage is entertainment, posing as news? 3. What amount is opinion, masquerading under the banner of "fair and balanced news?" Since real news is critical for a free society, let's review the October 27 issue, in detail.

Starting with section B, Nation-World; the focus was on government integrity from the White House and the Supreme Court to the leadership of the United Nations.  Also highlighted were challenges to international communication and religious freedom along side challenges to security by terrorism and regulations to improve the quality of health care. Inside the Nation-World section were more stories related to keeping freedom:  coping with the aftermath of Mexico's recent hurricane disaster, important relief for Pakistan's quake victims and justice for the Russian who murdered an air traffic controller.

The Opinion page continued the "freedom" message with an editorial about parental influence in how video games are presented to children.  One columnist took aim on "transparency" in the Whitehouse regarding war and decision-making. The other column emphasized the importance of taking the longer view on economic manipulations versus allowing cycles to unfold, and often adjusting in constructive ways. The Business page dealt with health, travel and entertainment - as each related to the free market demands of price, quality and integrity. 

The front section, local in focus, also brought home the freedom-keeping message:  police are diligently fighting crime, a winery is contributing to the local economy, students learn about opportunities from a job fair, appropriate children's materials are a focus of a local movie theatre, the freedom to protest is alive and well and the State Controller's office has lots of "stuff" for those who are ready to come and make claims. 

Keep at it. We depend upon real news because it is the news we need to keep our freedoms. 


James F. Bracher