Most people in our community are probably not aware that the 78th annual National Newspaper Week is this next week. It is the yearly recognition of the contribution journalists and newspaper make to cities and towns throughout this nation every day — including here at the Patterson Irrigator.

The theme this year is, “Journalism matters. NOW more than ever.”

As the theme indicates, this is a critical time for the American institute of journalism because the national political rhetoric now includes allegations that newspapers are little more than purveyors of false information bent on enacting a radical hidden agenda. This is not the first time these tactics have been used to identify the press as an enemy in an effort to devalue information that is published about someone or some group.

That tactic at the national level hurts all of us because it even makes readers here in Tracy and Mountain House question the sources of our information and the integrity of our reporting.

As an institution we have one goal: Serve our community. It is what drives us to delve into thousands of pages of information to find the details in a city official’s use of taxpayer money; or publicize the ugly issue of human trafficking that is being practiced at homes and businesses in our town; or dig through months of police records to find an epidemic of marijuana edibles are being used on our school campuses.

This kind of investigation and the metaphorical sunshine it shines onto a person or issue is as vital in our town as it is in Washington D.C. or Sacramento. But we cannot accomplish our mission without your support.

Just this week Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 748 and Senate Bill 1421 into law. Both laws end 40 years of restrictive rules that prohibited public access to the actual documents and recordings held by police agencies, about both specific critical incidents and the personnel records that reflect the agency's response to police shootings or misconduct.

Both laws were only passed because of the efforts of the California News Publishers Association and the support of the public and your elected representatives in the State Capital.

Our journalism reflects the state of our community — reflects you. We tell your stories and record for history the events that shape Tracy and Mountain House far into the future.

Please take a moment next week and write, Tweet, email or tag our mayor, city council, county supervisor, Assembly member, state senator, member of Congress, Senator and President and let them know you support local journalism and the journalists who serve you.

Michael Ellis Langley was raised in Tracy and returned home as editor of the Press in 2013.

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