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  • Last modified 277 days ago (Aug. 17, 2023)

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Support for newspaper goes global

Staff writer

They sent pizza, offered computers, volunteered to edit copy and do research, increased advertising, and bought subscriptions to the 154-year-old Record.

Thousands of people from around the world pledged support for Marion’s second-longest operating business — its newspaper — after police officers and sheriff’s deputies seized computer equipment and personal cell phones Friday from the Record newsroom, the home of its owners, and the home of Marion’s vice mayor.

Almost 2,000 people signed up for new subscriptions. More than 266,500 people read the Record’s website.

At least two downtown businesses posted “Support the Blue” on storefronts.

“I have read with anger, sadness, empathy, and even a tinge of fear about
what has happened to all of you,” a Goessel resident wrote in an email.

“Thank you for being one of the few remaining local newspapers around,” another supporter wrote. “Please stay strong and keep fighting for local journalism. I come from a small town in Indiana and remember the local newspaper being critical to our understanding of community and unity, overall.”

“The raid on your newspaper office and the related death is an absolute outrage,” a New Jersey resident wrote. “This is something you’d expect to find in a totalitarian state.”

Numerous people called to ask for the Record’s mailing address, saying they were outraged and planned to send checks to help defray legal expenses.

The Record’s three phone lines rang steadily over the weekend as well as Monday and Tuesday as news of the raid spread in The New York Times and The Washington Post and on NPR and CNN — among dozens of other print and broadcast outlets. Emails poured in to the newsroom.

Outside the newspaper’s building on 3rd St., people created a shrine to Joan Meyer, the Record’s co-owner who died a day after police searched the home she shared with her son, Eric, publisher and editor of the paper. They left fresh and artificial flowers, including a rose made of newsprint.

The Society of Professional Journalists pledged $20,000 to help the paper with legal fees. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a stinging letter, signed by 30 heavy-hitter news organizations, to Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody, who read Record staff members their Miranda rights. Like the paper’s attorney, Bernie Rhodes, the organization urged law enforcement to return seized materials.

The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas issued a statement saying, “We stand with our alumni and all journalists who work tirelessly, and often at great personal cost, to ensure that the public is well-informed. The school, along with the William Allen White Foundation Board of Trustees, affirms that any threat to journalism is a threat to democracy itself. 

““As our namesake once famously wrote in his own small-town Kansas newspaper: ‘Only when free utterance is suppressed is it needed, and when it is needed, it is most vital to justice.’” 

Emily Bradbury, executive director of the Kansas Press Association, said, “An attack on a newspaper office through an illegal search is not just an infringement on the rights of journalists but an assault on the very foundation of democracy and the public’s right to know. This cannot be allowed to stand.”

“I continue to be outraged by the irresponsible speech by far too many in positions of authority condemning our nation’s journalists for doing the job they are supposed to do,” an Oregon resident wrote. “Such speech incites and condones the kind of reprehensible violations you’ve experienced in Marion.”

Last modified Aug. 17, 2023

 

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