Friday, June 12, 2020

Democracy Dies in Darkness

The official slogan of The Washington Post is Democracy Dies in Darkness

According to Wikipedia, it was adopted during February 2017 and added to the website and then the print version of the newspaper. 

I confess that I had seen the slogan, but was not aware of its recent addition to the banner. For some reason this morning I decided to research when it was adopted by The Washington Post. I was shocked to learn that it was just over three years ago.

The Wikipedia article documents the addition of the slogan to the banner as follows:

"Democracy Dies in Darkness" was the first slogan to be officially adopted by the Post in its 140-year history.[2] According to the newspaper, the phrase was popularized by investigative journalist Bob Woodward.[3] Woodward used the phrase in a 2007 piece criticizing government secrecy,[4] and referenced the phrase during a 2015 presentation at a conference when he talked about The Last of the President's Men, his book about the Watergate scandal. Woodward said he did not coin the phrase himself, instead attributing the phrase to a judge ruling on a First Amendment case, believed to be from Circuit Judge Damon Keith. The paper's owner Jeff Bezos, who attended Woodward's 2015 presentation, also used the phrase in a May 2016 interview. The newspaper said it decided to adopt an official slogan in 2016, before Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president of the United States. This started a process which involved a small group of newspaper employees meeting to develop ideas for slogans. The group eventually settled on "Democracy Dies in Darkness" after brainstorming over 500 options.[2]

The slogan goes nicely with All the News That's Fit to Print, which of course is the slogan of The New York Times. I could not find that slogan on the electronic version of the paper, but it remains on the printed version. 

It is the job of the free and Constitutionally-protected press to discover and report the news and to cast light upon those things which we need to know and which others may want to conceal from our view. We can disagree about the slant of the reporting, whether liberal-leaning or conservative, but at the end of the day it is the reporting of the news and happenings in our government which lights the dark places to reveal topics which we need to understand and address. 

The press helps the electorate to hold our elected and appointed leaders accountable.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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