In 1839 Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword.” The Baron Lytton probably had no idea of the terrible and sometimes undeserving beating that the media would take in the twentieth century for using its sword to serve and protect the public and its best interest. More than a mere slap on the hand, we have seen many harsh critics jump on the bandwagon and try to condemn the media for doing its job as the fourth estate and informing the public of the sometimes harsh reality of today’s society.
The towing and booting ordinance that passed unanimously at Tuesday night’s Provo City Council meeting may slip into history as another forgotten example of just how hard the media works to provide a forum for the public to help maintain the democratic ideals of self-governance. In March of this year, The Daily Universe investigated the issue of local towing and booting practices and brought to the public’s attention several tactics its readers found to be questionable.
Because of the platform provided by the media to help surface this issue, an indisputably relevant concern to BYU students and others was brought to public light and all parties involved were forced to address the problem. Perhaps even more importantly, authorities involved in the decision making process had a chance to see a high priority issue demand their immediate attention because of the issue’s impact on the public and the public’s demand for a solution.
Before Tuesday’s ordinance was passed, booting companies were not considered to be regulated business entities. Towing companies are now required to accept cash and credit cards as payment from the owners of impounded cars. In addition, apartment complexes must more clearly mark tow-away zones. This is just the beginning of a list that will more clearly spell out towing and booting policies for the city of Provo.
The towing and booting industry and the people affected by the industry have come together and the Provo City Council has mediated a settlement that we believe serves the purpose of best protecting the public.
In this case, a university newspaper felt a moral obligation to be an advocate for students and provide a forum for public debate, to allow both criticism and defense in order to salvage some sort of truth — mission accomplished.
This is why the Founding Fathers placed such high importance on freedom of the press — not because they saw the media intentionally serving its own interest or misleading the people in any way, but because they saw the need for an additional advocate for the people and a nation they knew would need that protection.
From the Boston Tea Party to the revolting practices of slavery and the inequality for minorities, to the current questionable tactics by government or business, the free press has been the champion of the downtrodden and the disenfranchised.
For the sake of students and all Americans, this process must continue. It can, if the public continues to support the media and its efforts in their behalf.
This editorial is the opinion of The Daily Universe. Daily Universe opinions are not necessarily the opinions of Brigham Young University, its administrators or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints