Dothan Eagle. March 14, 2022.
Editorial: Sewing good to hear
In many small communities across Alabama, the air was filled with the hum of sewing machines operated by local workers, many of whom had spent careers turning miles of fabric into garments shipped around the world.
Following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the needle trade in Alabama and throughout the country began to expand. Jobs were outsourced overseas, and over time more than 300,000 American garment workers saw their job security plummet.
Last week, the state of Alabama announced that it was leasing part of a textile factory in Wetumpka to a California company seeking space for its fabric cutting plant. Bella+Canvas will lease part of an 890,000 square foot vacant building left vacant since Russell Brands left in 2013.
The details: $11.9 million to invest, creating 557 jobs. The Wetumpka operation will increase the company’s retail and wholesale apparel production.
It’s too early to proclaim a resurrection of Alabama’s textile industry, but Bella+Canvas’ investment should draw attention to other national apparel makers. There are closed textile mills across the state, and communities are ready to roll out bolts of red cloth to welcome new investors.
Cullman Times. March 12, 2022.
Editorial: Let the sun in
Although the origin of the quote may not be as auspicious as we praise it today, the role of a journal in “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” is one that has been recognized as vital in the protection of democracy. It’s also a quote that can’t come to fruition in places where the media is controlled by government misinformation or lack of access to it (look no further than Russia).
Which brings us to Sunshine Week, this year from March 13-19.
According to the American Society of News Editors, Sunshine Week was launched “in 2005 as a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. The week-long celebration takes place each March to coincide with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, the father of the US Constitution and a key proponent of the Bill of Rights. Participants included print, broadcast and digital media; government officials at all levels; schools and universities; non-profit and civic organizations; libraries and archivists; and those interested in the public’s right to know.
Why Madison? “Madison eloquently expressed the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, particularly in the freedoms of religion, speech, and press protected by the First Amendment,” according to The American President Project. “He understood the value of information in a democratic society, as well as the importance of its free and open dissemination. He believed that through the interaction of government and its citizens, facilitated by a free press and open access to information, government could be more responsive to the people it serves.
Here in Cullman County, we know a thing or two about the importance of keeping government transparent and accessible to the public. We have seen what can happen in the shadows. Or during “executive sessions”.
This is why spotlights such as Sunshine Week are so important. The only way for the public to be assured that public business is conducted fairly and lawfully is if the public and the news organizations, and especially newspapers that follow government operations closely, come to account for a process open to everyone.
In the United States, we are entitled to unfiltered information – not just information that a government agency deems “good for us”.
Refusing to release documents or declaring something “official” without mutual consent violates the public’s right to know.
Let the Sun in.