This past year was an eventful one at The Lancaster Patriot. In 2022 we covered many important local stories, added a full-time journalist to our team, and ignited some passionate conversations with both our news stories and our editorials. I’ve been privileged with the opportunity to speak with many subscribers, advertisers, and community members about the newspaper and the direction of our county. The feedback has been diverse – many positive things, some critical things (I do not say “negative” because challenging critiques are welcome and provide opportunity for reflection), and some nasty things (those were few and far between, and mainly centered on my involvement in an event considering the Christian heritage of our commonwealth).
As this year comes to a close, I want to comment on one of the salient issues that arose in many of those interactions: a newspaper’s purpose.
The Anatomy of a Newspaper
The Lancaster Patriot is generally considered a traditional newspaper. There are two broad components to a newspaper such as ours: the news stories and the perspective pieces. (There are ancillary things as well – classifieds, comics, etc. These parts of the paper are important but require little explanation.)
Other than LNP newspaper, I am unaware of another print newspaper such as ours in the county. There are plenty of useful and worthwhile community papers (The Merchandiser, for example), but they are providing a different product. We are bringing you the news and providing a platform for commentary and discussion. Thus, we have printed numerous guest editorials – including three leading up to the recent midterm elections which took a different tack than my writing – and we welcome Letters to the Editor.
Let’s briefly address the two main components of our newspaper: news and perspectives.
In the news section, our goal is to provide the county news in well-written, factual, and informative articles. As much as we would like to focus only on uplifting stories, we simply do not have that luxury if we want to faithfully report what is happening in our county.
One of our most controversial news stories from 2022 was entitled, “Local Theologian Attacks ‘White Christian Nationalism’” (written by Michael Yoder and published in August). We received multiple calls from readers bothered by our inclusion of this news story. Why are we promoting a liberal seminary professor in Lancaster County?
The fact is, we weren’t promoting him. We were reporting on an event that we considered important. Greg Carey, the seminary professor, said things that I think are ludicrous and I believed at the time (and still do) that Lancastrians should know what is being peddled in the county in the name of Christianity.
But the news article did not give the perspective of the publisher or the editor – it reported the facts. It presented the remarks of Carey in broad daylight for all our readers to see for themselves. This is what news is supposed to do. It is not supposed to editorialize and tell readers how to think – it is supposed to report the facts.
Has this not been the refrain of conservatives sick and tired of liberal media editorializing news stories, telling us what to think instead of telling us what happened? We simply believe that standard should apply to both the liberal and the conservative newspapers. If we ever editorialize our news stories, we have abandoned one of our key principles.
In many ways it is understandable that our news coverage would ruffle some feathers. People are used to media companies spinning news stories to fit the ideology of one of the major political parties. But we never want to do that. We want to give you the facts in our news stories. If the facts are troubling, I hope it will inspire people to get involved to change the direction of the county.
The Proper Perspective on Perspectives
Perspective (or editorial) pieces are the second main component of a traditional newspaper.
A perspective piece is primarily meant to do one thing: provide the perspective of the writer. That being the case, newspaper readers have generally understood that a perspective printed in the newspaper does not necessarily reflect the views of everyone on staff. (For example, I cannot speak for every member of The Lancaster Patriot staff when I write an editorial on an issue – I speak for myself.)
Furthermore, perspectives are meant to evaluate current events and provide critical analysis. They are not a tool for the campaign team of a political candidate – at least they shouldn’t be.
In my editorials, I seek to apply the biblical worldview to current events. Just as our news stories ruffled some feathers in 2022, some of my editorials did as well. But I found the primary reason for the stir was not that my points were analyzed and refuted (which is certainly possible), but that critiquing anyone other than socialist leftists or smarmy GOP leaders in a newspaper editorial is frowned upon by many conservatives.
For example, my specific critique of Sen. Doug Mastriano voting for a budget with billions of dollars going to a socialistic, godless system (government education) was largely dismissed. Instead, the focus was mainly on the supposed audacity of critiquing anything about the conservative candidate.
(However, some people did engage in substantive discussion on the issue. The Lancaster Patriot Podcast even featured a discussion of opposing views on Mastriano’s candidacy. I consider that a positive outcome of the editorial, and I still welcome anyone who wants to challenge and discuss the issues related to state-run, socialistic education and the billions of dollars forcefully confiscated from supposedly free Pennsylvanians to pay for it.)
The Lancaster Patriot was never intended to be (and hopefully never will become) beholden to any political party. That is an important value that is lost in our politically polarized culture. Do we really want a county newspaper that is going to parrot a political candidate’s marketing team? (I think LNP has already cornered that market.)
Wouldn’t it be better to have an editorial section that will hold all candidates and politicians accountable? If I critique the Democratic Party (which is very easy to do and nearly every conservative outlet does so daily), and yet I shy away from challenging Mastriano’s actions, or Rep. Dave Zimmerman’s legislative proposals, or County Commissioner Josh Parson’s decisions, then I might as well discard my pen and keyboard, for I would have already discarded my dignity. A legislative aide can write the editorials if it comes to that.
If we are genuinely interested in seeing our county blessed according to God’s purposes, we should welcome challenges to even the latest and greatest conservative candidate. If there is truly a candidate committed to governing according to the Law-Word of God and restoring true freedom to the commonwealth, can’t he handle a critique of his views? In fact, he would welcome it. He wouldn’t be disappointed that a conservative news outlet printed editorials challenging his views, he would embrace it and engage the ideas.
We can be certain of this: the gender-bending leftists on LNP’s editorial board don’t have a clue when it comes to biblically analyzing a Republican candidate or leader. Do we want the socialists and trans-activists to be the ones telling us how the GOP can improve? I sure hope not. As the proverb says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
2023 will present its own batch of controversial issues, agendas, and topics. My hope and prayer is that we can think through them carefully, challenge one another according to the righteous standard of God’s Word, and strive to see our county experience true liberty, justice, and prosperity.
Happy New Year, and happy reading.
Chris Hume is the managing editor of The Lancaster Patriot. He is responsible for managing customer service, sales, and content across all The Lancaster Patriot’s print and digital channels. He can be reached at email@example.com or @ChrisHume1689 on Twitter.