A few thoughts on age and the age-old debate over freedom of the press.
At some point in our lives, we face the question: “Are we too old?”
We wonder if we are too old to work, to play, even to have sex.
Let’s hope not.
We wouldn’t suggest a restriction on old age with many of our elected officials. In the U.S. Senate, 18 current Senators range from 72 to 81. Diane Feinstein of California, is the oldest: 81 and 340 days as of Thursday, May 28, 2015. She will be 82 on June 22.
Bernie Sanders, the Socialist/Independent who is running for President, is 73.
Movie actor/director Clint Eastwood is 84. Harrison Ford is 72 and is still getting around after he crashed his private plane on a golf course three months ago.
Mary Ellen Mark, an incredible photographer I admired and had the pleasure of meeting and having dinner with some years ago, died this week at 75. She was still working and producing her strong images and photo essays.
At 67, I feel some of the ravages of age. A motorcycle accident two-and-a-half years ago slowed me some but I still ride a two-wheeler and still haul my photographic equipment up and down football fields and athletic courts to photograph sports.
An average work period nowadays is 60 hours or so, often seven days a week. I rise before dawn to edit stories and lay out pages for a national political news web site, write at least one daily story her on Muse, review a growing list of publications for news and information and perform other duties.
Breakfast is normally late in the morning and after eight or so hours on the job.
Why? Because what I do is not really “a job.” It’s what I do with my life. I’ve been extremely fortunate enough to do what I love for most of my years on this planet.
Some, of course, try to discredit the work by those of us in the “media.” People have been doing so for the more than half a century that I’ve spent as a newspaperman.
Others have spent even longer to cheapen the efforts of those who seek out and report the news.
Newspapers, buckling under technology and competition that too often cheapens the role news plays in our society, are fading. I am sometimes told that I may outlive my chosen profession of newspaperman.
God, I hope not.
Said Thomas Jefferson in 1787:
The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.
In 1823, he added this:
The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.
And he summed it up this way:
I am… for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.