Being in the business of news helps us see the perpetual flow of issues and events and their accompanying lessons to learn and principles to apply. This editorial is not a traditional end of the year review with best and worst categories, trends and top 10 lists. Its intent is to take a hard look at the past year and draw from it principles that will move the nation forward in 2019.
Freedom of the press
President Trump’s ongoing battle with the press and news media led to more than 300 news organizations uniting to write editorials decrying the president. Some in the media have placed themselves in the middle of the news. As an independent organization, the Deseret News chose to print the First Amendment to the Constitution with a one word editorial, “Ditto.” It was a simple reminder that the First Amendment doesn’t belong to the president, nor does it belong to the members of the press — it belongs to the people. Journalists must continue to operate in a sphere free from repression while remembering they enjoy the same freedoms afforded all American people.
Lessons in life and death
The world lost some truly amazing souls in 2018, including George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, Sen. John McCain, Aretha Franklin, Thomas S. Monson, Utah’s North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan, and hundreds others. Each could be summed up in principle — decency, loyalty, honor, respect and service. Spending time in the new year studying these lives and principles would be time well spent.
Others lives lost in 2018 were untimely but equally poignant in the principles contained in their passing. University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey was senselessly murdered on campus, and many lives were cut short or changed forever in mass shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The country needs to hash out real solutions for public safety, identifying threats, learning best practices for handling mental illness in public spaces and ensuring everyone comes to the negotiating table with compassion and tolerance.
The Supreme Court confirmation for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, showdowns over health care, shutdowns over border security, scandals across the business and political spectrum, along with global muscle flexing by friends and foes over tariffs, taxes and trade tested Congress’ ability to lead. The politics often obfuscated the principles at play. The Supreme Court battle distracted from important principles about respect, abuse, force, underage drinking and unwanted sex. The border battles prevented progress based on the American belief that compassion and rule of law are compatible principles.
There were also reasons to celebrate the principles of compromise and common sense. Utah showed that compromise was possible to provide those suffering with pain and disease real solutions through doctor prescribed and pharmacy fulfilled marijuana-based medicine. Nationally, bipartisanship prevailed when Congress passed the most significant criminal justice reform in a generation.
The InDepth team at the Deseret News spent significant effort over the course of the year providing research, insight and resources relating to mental health, stress, anxiety and depression. This included reporting and public events emphasizing the issue of teens and anxiety. Lessons from this reporting and community connection included the need for parents, students and professionals to get comfortable having uncomfortable conversations about mental health, the need for more accessible resources and more awareness for the needs of neighbors and friends. The battles of daily life are waged in the community, and that is where solutions journalism will have its greatest impact.11 comments on this story
The new year will be filled with many lessons to be learned and principles to be applied, but it hinges on everyone engaging. We will start in January by focusing on the question, “Will integrity and trust be on trial in 2019?” These two principles may well shape the lessons that will be learned or possibly ignored in the monumental year to come.
A society is only as strong as the shared principles it possesses. This doesn’t mean 100 percent agreement on issues, trends or solutions. It simply means solving the challenges of the day requires principled dialogue and civil debate. The lessons of history, even 2018 history, provide more than enough learning to better shape conversations for a better, more prosperous and more productive 2019.