Some of the best and brightest "with it" liberals newly immigrated to Ashland put this paper down as a joke. Their ignorance and lack of sophistication about what the Tidings represents isn't funny.

Some of the best and brightest "with it" liberals newly immigrated to Ashland put this paper down as a joke. Their ignorance and lack of sophistication about what the Tidings represents isn't funny.

It's true that freedom of speech is threatened by news for profit, not principle, and scream television. But the demise of freedom of speech stops with readers. We will always need newspapers; they will just arrive in a different form to be read at our leisure.

The purpose of news is not merely to inform, but to keep people together and changing for the better for the community. If there is no local news there is no local life. If we lost our paper, what would we know of our town?

Whatever form future newspapers take, they are all that keeps Ashland's "good life," based on "do-gooding," going.

We are a town of trees because someone cared. We have a local hospital, few neon lights and an endless park because someone cared.

Twenty years ago two real estate saleswomen were killed by a man pretending to buy a home. Whether they were killed because they were a couple or because they were vulnerable, it is safer now. We have less stray dogs and cats and our local medical clinic thrives because of caring.

None of our large markets had black employees back then. A local doctor had her office set on fire because she used innovative cures for cancer now commonly practiced. We once had skinheads on the Plaza threatening individuals they thought were Jewish.

We had almost no families of color, and black actors were regularly harassed by police going home from the theater at night. Whole regions of our lovely, elderly, well-built homes were threatened to be demolished for cheap apartments.

We had no museum. Co-ops and organic food were for hippies. A local doctor who offered family planning and abortions had his office burned down, his employees threatened with death. The symphony was struggling. Our university was a small-town college.

Now, there is no Walmart in town, and airplanes don't fly over the outdoor Shakespeare theater during performances, because someone cared. Our low-income housing is an accomplishment for great pride throughout the world.

Now we are a town where half the people are new and higher income and have bought the "Ashland experience" outright. Will they use it up or make it better still? Will they support the community and schools so everyone wins?

America is a democracy because of a free press. That made us great in the world. Countries are at war for a free press. Let's value what generations before us have died for.

Our "local rag" is our most valuable asset. The Tidings is not just another small paper. These few pages are all that keep our identity and individuality alive, all that makes Ashland a real town.

Save the local paper with your input and subscriptions, save the community and save democracy. Save democracy's first principle — a free press — and save the world.

Leah Ireland

Ashland