The First Amendment is one of the most powerful underpinnings of American democracy. The very words echo the defiance and resolve that this country was born on. As a predominantly Democratic city we cannot be allowed to become conditioned that being a Republican represents racism or that only Democrats hold the moral high ground. With ever increasing changes in D.C. in general, and Ward 5 in particular, we must recognize the opportunities we have to be heard. We must also understand that social media is not the only form of free speech.
Journalism is under attack from several different sources. There’s obviously the day-to-day assault from the President of the United States, but it’s also under assault from social media platforms that undermine small, independent news and information sources like The DC Voice. Wired Magazine writes “How Social Networks Set the Limits of What We Can Say Online“. We can’t compete with the million-plus followers of Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. However, what we can, and will continue to do, is provide Ward 5 with an opportunity to speak freely.
In case the First Amendment doesn’t roll off your tongue or sit in the forefront of your mind take a moment to refresh your memory in what amounts to a modern-day Tweet.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The African American community must embrace all free speech and stand against its vilest protagonists. When we can’t voice our opinions without fear of repercussion we lose. When we can’t challenge the technology around us, we lose. When a small independent voice is seen as incompetent or illegitimate; we all lose.
The DC Voice was born on the premise that everyone deserves a voice. Everyone deserves to be heard and represented. Look at the articles we’ve posted covering a wide range of subjects, topics, opinions, and peoples. We’ve given Gallaudet University a voice over the years from Gallaudet Gets a New President in 2015 to The MJ Experience: Enjoy life and Learn, Tour Gallaudet University Museum last year because it deserves a voice as much, if not more, than others.
We were one of the first that saw Donald Trump, Donald’s Circus, Circles Cleveland, the RNC as a legitimate candidate. We reached out to all the Ward 5 Council candidates to get their platforms out, covered any number of ANC meetings, and offered time and again for Ward 5 ANC members to use us as a vehicle get out their messages.
We don’t aggregate; we inform. We don’t run away from being journalist and publishers and hide behind the cloak of being a “media platform”. How ironic that these social media “platforms” such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter don’t want to be seen as publishers but encourage their users to “publish”.
Have we had the groundswell support we need to sustain our writers and contributors? Maybe not. Will we be able to grow beyond our 200-400 monthly readers? Maybe not. But one thing you can be sure of, we will write every week to express the views and opinions of the voiceless, faceless, and increasingly less empowered longtime residents of Ward 5.
Free speech matters because without a free and independent source of information for Ward 5 we will continue to plead for news coverage that won’t come unless we fit someone else’s news cycle. It matters because, without a voice, a free press, and the ability to exercise the First Amendment we will remain a faceless, nameless, demographic that gets trampled underfoot. So remember that you have another voice when you count up your Followers, Likes, and Favorites. The DC Voice will continue to advocate that “The only way to change the narrative is to write the narrative.” ALWAYS FORWARD ®