Still giving voice to our readers - 175 years of publishing

THIS decade of centenaries has underlined the power, wisdom and necessity of remembrance.

Still giving voice to our readers - 175 years of publishing

Internationally, events marking the charnel-house of the First World War reminded us of the real meaning of sacrifice and made us look anew at the peace Europe enjoys today. By being reminded of the alternative — catastrophe — our commitment to protecting European stability must be renewed and strengthened.

At home, we’ve spent the last eight months honouring those who, in 1916, ignored the inevitable consequences of confronting the world’s most voracious imperialists. That centenary has obliged us to ask the question that will never go away: Have we properly honoured the noble ideals of 1916 and made best use of the opportunities that visceral declaration made possible? It remains, and will remain, a goading, open question.

Those apex events define the world we live in, but today, we are happy and proud to mark another anniversary, a smaller, more intimate one, that is just a stitch or two in the great tapestry of Ireland stretching back to 1841. Today — Tuesday, August 30, 2016 — we mark the 175th anniversary of the establishment of this newspaper by John Francis Maguire as a platform to support Catholic emancipation and The Liberator Daniel O’Connell’s campaign to secure tenants’ rights.

Then The Cork Examiner, later The Examiner, and now the Irish Examiner, this newspaper has been a voice for this region through famine, revolution, world wars, the tragedy of constant emigration, boom-and-burst recessions, and sweeping social change. Today’s housing crisis speaks to the very issues O’Connell challenged when he demanded tenants’ rights — and we remain as determined to articulate those concerns as Maguire was 175 years ago. The pursuit of a decent and equitable society is a core belief, a core objective of this newspaper and its owners, Tom and Ted Crosbie.

As today’s tribute publication — readers’ letters stretching back over more than a century — shows, this newspaper was, and remains, a conduit for the passions and concerns of its readers. There cannot be a much better way to feel the heartbeat of a society than to read the letters published in its newspapers. Journalism may be the first draft of history, but the ideas expressed through newspapers’ letters columns provide invaluable societal insight throughout the ages.

In a world where change is the only constant, this continues to remain a truism, even if today those columns are mirrored in the great debates on social media.

The digital revolution has profoundly challenged the viability of newspapers across the globe. This is not unprecedented — newspapers, after all, survived the advent of radio and television. It is our ambition to remain a relevant, credible voice, on multiple publishing platforms, because, just as in 1841, the good of Irish society is enhanced by strong independent journalism that fights for its citizens and questions what the powerful seek to silence.

When he published his first edition of The Cork Examiner 175 years ago today, John Francis Maguire realised that principled journalism can be a powerful force for great good, something which has been proved time and again in the intervening years by outstanding work across Irish media.

It is a challenge for us all to ensure that it can be sustained in an era where there is a reluctance to pay for it.

READ MORE: All aspects of life touched upon in 175 years of letters from our readers

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