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Dick Scaife: What matters most

| Sunday, May 18, 2014, 12:57 a.m.
Tribune-Review file
Scaife is proud of the first Sunday edition of the Tribune-Review on May 19, 1974.
Trib Total Media owner Richard Mellon Scaife.

Nothing gives perspective to life so much as death.

Recently, doctors told me I have an untreatable form of cancer.

Some who dislike me may rejoice at this news. Naturally, I can't share their enthusiasm.

The diagnosis has prompted me to consider my life, the city and region I call home, the country I love, and the many people I have known — especially those who are friends, or whose lives and achievements I respect.

In coming weeks and months, I hope to write about some of these things.

Today, I want to write about one thing that is so important to me: Newspapers.

Over the decades, I supported many causes I consider worthwhile. Those include art museums, universities, think-tanks, political campaigns, community redevelopment projects, and countless charities —some local, others national in scope.

None has given me as great a sense of accomplishment as the newspapers of Trib Total Media.

I fell in love with newspapers as a boy, when my father brought me editions from around the country and abroad. The day I became a newspaper publisher, buying the Tribune-Review, remains one of the proudest, happiest moments of my life.

I believed then — as I do now — that newspapers are essential to America, and to any free and prospering nation.

Even today, when so many kinds of media offer endless information, newspapers are unique and invaluable: They provide the most substantive, trustworthy reporting from the most experienced, reliable writers and editors; they consistently break more of the important stories, investigate more of the critical issues, and expose more of the secrets that we need to know.

Newspapers, more than any other medium, keep a watchful eye on government at all levels, on business and technology, medicine and science, and other aspects of our lives.

Much of what you read or hear on blogs and other Internet sites, on TV and radio, originated in a newspaper. Many of those other media are useful — yet none consistently produces the quality and quantity of important news that you find daily in almost any American newspaper.

The work of my newspapers gives me immense pride. We've exposed public corruption and incompetence, threats to public safety and health; we've interviewed many of the leading political figures of the past decade; we've reported on wars and other events around the world — and we've also reported big and small, tragic and uplifting stories that make up the daily lives of families, neighborhoods and communities across Western Pennsylvania.

Many of these stories never would have been told, if not for the Trib newspapers.

That is why, several years ago, I took steps to ensure that my newspapers outlive me. I believe they are essential to our communities and will be my most valuable legacy.

Newspapering has changed radically since I published my first edition, and I know it will change even more. The decline of some of America's once-great newspapers in recent years has been profound and surprising.

Yet I hope newspapers remain the strong guardians of our lives, the crucial source of critical information, that they have always been – because the health, security, freedom and well-being of our communities, our nation, and all of us individually, depend on them.

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