This op-ed originally appeared on Spotlight PA.
The challenges and threats facing our Democracy can seem so enormous and systemic that you might think one person, one article, or one vote couldn’t possibly make a difference.
But the biggest threat of all is giving in and believing all is already lost.
This month we celebrate Democracy Day as a commitment to the preservation of our freedoms. At Spotlight PA, it’s also a stark reminder of what’s at stake, why we work hard to produce unique journalism that informs and equips people to drive change, and why we need your help.
Nationwide, we’re losing newspapers at a rate of two per week, according to a report from Northwestern University. A fifth of the country’s population is now living in an area with either no local news outlet, or only one — fueling a rise in confusion, misinformation, or outright lies.
Here in Pennsylvania, the rapid decline of trusted, nonpartisan news in communities is alarming — and it’s only getting worse. Just last month, four major newspapers were sold to a media group owned by a hedge fund with a reputation for cutbacks and layoffs.
At the same time, public access to quality information is eroding, we’re on the precipice of a presidential election under unprecedented circumstances, and partisanship is flaring — all sure to again stress test our Democracy and our commitment to the facts over nonsense.
Now is the time to recommit to action.
Spotlight PA was founded to meet this moment: To restore trusted, nonpartisan statehouse and statewide journalism that enables Pennsylvanians to be engaged and take action, and to ensure everyone — not just those who can afford it — has free and unfettered access to it.
We are bringing journalism back to what it must be for the sake of our Democracy: A check on powerful people and institutions, a beacon of accountability and transparency, and a trusted source to explain how and why things happen, and what they mean for your life.
Your support makes this public service possible. As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to ensure Spotlight PA can continue to produce tough, unique reporting you won’t find anywhere else, and to make it available at no cost as a public benefit and a public good.
Access to quality information is the bedrock of a strong Democracy, and today, in honor of Democracy Day, I’m hoping you’ll take action to ensure Spotlight PA’s reporting can continue by making a tax-deductible contribution in support of our work at spotlightpa.org/donate.
As a special bonus, and for a limited time, all gifts in support of Spotlight PA’s work will be matched dollar-for dollar — doubling your gift — by The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
The good of our communities, our state, and our Republic depends on free and unfettered public access to trusted, accurate information about what’s happening, why, and how to drive positive change. And you can do your part to ensure that happens by making a gift now.
We can’t leave the future of journalism and our Democracy at the whims of the economy and bottom lines. Our future depends on something better, but that will take our shared support and commitment.
Christopher Baxter is the CEO & President of Spotlight PA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism for Pennsylvania. Support Spotlight PA at spotlightpa.org/donate or mail a check to: Spotlight PA, PO Box 11728, Harrisburg, PA 17108
Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.