A partnership that educates

Thomas Jefferson has often been quoted as saying you can’t have a functioning democracy without a free press. It is a statement we believe in as much today as ever, particularly in a society with a bend toward believing everything read on social media before turning to a newspaper or listening to reports on television.

A free press is vital to ensuring that a citizenry knows what is going on around them, the good and the bad, dispelling inaccurate social media rantings and holding government officials accountable for their actions, among myriad other things.

Reading a newspaper, writing to a newspaper and understanding the value of a free press is an essential part of education today. And, by reading the newspaper, students get a real-world look at government, their own rights and responsibilities and how policy is made.

That’s why the American Press Institute initiated Newspapers in Education and this week (always the first full week of March), dubbed NIE Week, to help educate students across our country. Using the newspaper as an educational tool, we believe, helps to increase literacy among our kids and helps them develop core beliefs in the principles of a free press. At the same time, we hope it enriches their lives and sparks an interest in some to become the next generation of journalists.

As our way of celebrating NIE and sparking students’ interest in the newspapers, our advertising team, led by manager Shannon Best, is once again offering students and local businesses an opportunity to partner in a fun and educational experience.

Thanks to the sponsorship of local businesses, we are once again asking students across our county to create real newspaper advertisements that will run in our paper and promote many of the shops and stores we urge readers to frequent on a regular basis.

Structured in a contest format that allows students to draw ads for area businesses, with the best selected as winners, the contest gives us an opportunity to showcase the tremendous talents of our young people while, at the same time, promoting our business community in a unique way.

Not only does this exercise teach youngsters more about the newspaper, it also allows them the opportunity to learn more about local businesses, what they do and what they offer.

It is a win-win for all of us involved and we are grateful to our local and area businesses for the support that allows us to offer this unique experience to school-age children.

We are big supporters of the NIE process and provide newspapers to schools each Tuesday as a means of getting youngsters involved. With newspapers covering a wide range of topics, it provides myriad opportunities to develop students’ critical thinking skills in areas that interest them and will affect them for life.

Giving students an opportunity to participate in the advertising side of our business allows them a broader perspective of what the newspaper does and offers to a community, and it gives us a chance to showcase students’ talents and promote local businesses.

We thank all our business participants — NC Sweet Potato Commission, Freedom Family Homes, Carolina Furniture, Dairy Queen, Smith Tire, McDonalds, Clinton Parks and Recreation, Bojangles, Sampson Regional Medical Center, Tires, Inc., Quality Equipment, Four County Electric Membership, Matthews Cards and Gifts, Baggett’s Jewelry, South River EMC, James Trading Company and Simpson & Holland Appraisals — for their support of the newspaper and the students, and we encourage our readers to shop with them and offer your own thanks for all they do to support our community.