This is probably a surprise to no one, but I’ve been a newspaper junkie since I was a kid. Even as a teen working at a my hometown paper, there was nothing I enjoyed quite like flipping through archived copies in the morgue.
My preference was to look through bound editions from the years after my birth (naturally) and read about and see pictures from important news stories that took place in our town.
As time marched on and I began to move to other communities and other newspapers, I’ve grown to enjoy looking through bound copies of papers for which I once worked. Rarely a visit to the Times Leader in West Point or The Star-Herald in Kosciusko would pass without me ending up with my nose in the archives.
United States Supreme Court Justice William Brennan traced the history of public debate about political affairs in our nation in 1964 in the landmark decision New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, concluding that public officials could recover for defamatory statements about their conduct in public office only if they could prove that the statements were false and that the speaker subjectively knew that they were false. In Sullivan, he famously wrote that in our country there is “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,” permitting “vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” In the most recent presidential campaign and the first year of his term of office President Trump has vigorously exercised this principle in social media such as Twitter when responding to his critics.