Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:
The Savannah Morning News on the rise of youth activists:
Last month, the Pooler City Council welcomed two very special guests to its meeting: seven-year-old Alexis Jordan and her five-year-old sister Alyssa Jordan.
Together, these two young Pooler residents, who live in the Forest Lakes subdivision, presented a handwritten letter to Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb, protesting the fact that a growing number of trees are being unceremoniously chopped down to make way for additional development in west Chatham County.
"Dear City Council," their letter read. "Please stop cutting down trees!!! We need to breathe. Trees are beautiful and animals need them too."
Alexis and Alyssa adorned their letter with drawings of trees, blue skies and animals.
The parents of these budding activists explained that whenever Alexis and Alyssa see trees being removed along Godley Station Boulevard, the girls ask the same question: "Why are they cutting down the trees?"
The girls' parents encouraged Alexis and Alyssa to write a letter to Mayor Lamb and to attend a Pooler City Council meeting to make their voices heard. And that's exactly what they did.
- Young activists rising up
Alexis and Alyssa Jordan are part of a rising tide of young activists who are speaking up and speaking out about a wide range of issues.
On Oct. 8, a group of teens from the Deep Center will present to area government officials and business leaders a 27-page policy brief with proposals to make "Savannah a safe and supportive place for working-class young people, youth of color, and other marginalized young people and their families."
Local youth are also getting involved in broader movements. A recent climate strike rally in Forsyth Park attracted a large number of teens, children and college students, many of whom displayed handmade signs encouraging action to save the planet from destruction.
Emboldened by 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who has attracted international attention for her critique of politicians for their lack of action to minimize the impact of climate change, a generation of young people across the country are currently mobilizing around a series of hot-button topics.
Earlier this month, as many as 1.6 million students across the world followed Thunberg's lead and walked out of school in order to draw attention to the climate crisis.
"We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis," Thunberg told the Houses of Parliament in England in 2018. "We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back."
- A balanced view
America's youth are heeding the call, taking a stand and raising their voices. They're exercising their Constitutional right to free speech and expressing their opinions in our decidedly democratic culture.
Engagement is better than apathy, but it's important for young people to see multiple sides of complex topics. It's critical to understand different viewpoints and to weigh the pros and cons of various courses of action.
In addition, adults - including parents, relatives, friends and community leaders - have an invaluable opportunity to mentor young people like Alexis and Alyssa and to have frank conversations about tough issues.
It's easy for kids to jump on the proverbial bandwagon and to protest the latest hot topic that's getting attention in the news. Lasting change requires collaboration, creative problem solving and working together across political and ideological differences. Unfortunately, that's becoming harder to do in an increasingly polarized political environment.
If you follow the daily news, you know that our nation has some serious challenges ahead when it comes to climate change, gun violence, health care, education, the economy and a host of other issues that divide our nation. Ultimately, it's going to be up to today's youth to clean up the mess that has been decades in the making.
Kudos to Alexis and Alyssa for speaking out about the loss of trees they've witnessed in their own community. Kudos to their parents for encouraging them to share their perspective with local leaders who have the power to effect change.
As Greta Thunberg recently told The Guardian: "Why should we argue about who or what needs to change first? Why not take the leading role?"
The Brunswick News on the dangers of vaping:
We all know the dangers posed by smoking cigarettes. They don't plaster those big warning labels on products that are good for you.
Despite that fact, people still have no problem lighting one up — even if the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general and is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
In order to avoid the dangers of cigarettes, some have turned to vaping to get their fix. For those who don't know, vaping is when a vaporizer is used to heat and aerosolize a solution. Nicotine-based solutions are used in e-cigarettes, but they are sometimes used for marijuana as well.
Some see vaping as a better alternative to cigarettes, but that has always been a flimsy argument because e-cigarettes still use the same addictive and harmful substances. The biggest problem is vaping's appeal to teens and young adults.
Vapes are made in various flavors and at times give off the impression that it is no more harmful than a candy by the same flavor. Recently though, the danger posed by these products has become very real.
U.S. health officials said on Oct. 3 that more than 1,000 vaping-related illnesses have been documented since March. Doctors, according to the Associated Press, said the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury with symptoms including severe shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain. Most who have gotten sick have said they vaped products containing THC, but some have said they only vaped nicotine, according to the AP.
The CDC said 1,080 confirmed and probable cases have been reported as of Oct. 1 with 18 deaths in 15 states from the illness. A doctor for the CDC told the AP that the outbreak is continuing and showing no signs of slowing down.
It is human nature to push the limit, but we must take better care of our bodies. Exposing your body to the harmful effects of cigarettes or vaping is not worth whatever momentary high users get from it.
While we would prefer nobody smoke or vape, it is important that we do not let teens and young adults fall into this cycle of addiction. Of the cases reported so far, more than 1/3 of those affected have been under the age of 21.
The CDC is encouraging all Americans to refrain from using any vaping products until they pinpoint exactly what is going on with the illness. If you are going to stop now, you might as well go the whole way and never pick up a vaporizer again.
The Valdosta Daily Times on recognizing local newspapers during National Newspaper Week:
This week marks the 79th annual recognition of National Newspaper Week.
The theme this year is "Think F1rst — Know Your 5 Freedoms."
Newspapers have a long and important legacy of protecting your First Amendment rights.
And that's not all.
In print, on digital sites, via laptop, desktop and mobile devices, through SMS or social media, newspapers remain the leading source of reliable information in all the communities they serve.
With daily attacks on the media from people in power, it is important for the public to know and understand the role of the press and how newspapers serve communities each day.
Here are some of the reasons your local newspaper is the most trustworthy source for news and information:
— Newspaper newsrooms are staffed with real people — people you know — reporters, photographers, editors — gathering the news, conducting interviews, covering meetings, attending events, writing, editing, fact-checking and making sure every day you can trust what you read.
— Newspapers rely on recognizable sources. Quotes in the articles you read are attributed to real people and can be easily verified.
— Newspapers work hard to stay away from single-source reporting, giving readers context and balance.
— Newspaper websites have legitimate URLs ending in .com or .org extensions, listing contact information, the names of staff members and the media organization's leadership team on the website.
— Newspapers correct mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes at times, but there is a big difference between an error and intentionally and knowingly publishing a false report because of some political or social agenda. Spurious websites, blogs and social media do not correct errors. They thrive on them.
Newspapers, in many instances, are the only institutions holding the powerful accountable, defending the First Amendment and advocating for government transparency.
Democracy is protected when the newspaper provides checks and balances as the Fourth Estate of government from city hall to the courthouse to the statehouse to the White House.
Newspapers are committed to the neighborhoods, cities, counties, states and coverage areas they serve.
Straightforward news reporting and thought-provoking commentary give a voice to the voiceless and empower the powerless. Newspapers hold government accountable because at our very core we believe that government belongs to the governed and not to the governing.
The Valdosta Daily Times has been recognized year after year for defending First Amendment rights, protecting the public's right to know and serving its community with strong journalism.
Get your news where real, reliable, trustworthy news has always been found: Your local newspaper.
Please indulge us as we recognize National Newspaper Week. It matters to us because what we do matters to us and what we do matters to us because it matters to our community.
Thank you for bringing us into your homes and allowing us to serve this community. We remain committed to being: Your News. Your Voice. Your Times.