There's more to being a First Amendment institution than the freedom of speech.

There's responsibility, too.

The Founding Fathers didn't assure the new nation a free press just so American publishers could make a fast buck shilling swill. They expected the press to pay attention to public affairs and help keep the public informed.

The realm of public affairs has expanded dramatically in recent years, however, to include not just local, state and federal government, but the machinations of big business and the threats posed by malignant foreign interests and global economic forces.

The Herald has a small role in that bigger picture, and our job sometimes includes bringing you more than your fair share of bad news, whether it's about crime, or the economy, or the latest shenanigans of a local government body or public official.

Thank goodness that isn't all the news that's fit to print.

Page 1 of the Baker City Herald aims to be a reflection of our community.

And for certain, there are rough edges.

But there's so much more, too:

o The couple who are helping market products made by the

o The to thank Ronald McDonald House in Boise for being there in their times of need.

o The friends and strangers alike who lent letters, money and prayers to a

o The volunteers who donate their time to make sure our community enjoys youth sports, the arts, parades, the and much more

o The trucker who lost his life trying to so someone else wouldn't be hurt.

o The young man who decided his neighbors needed

o The pilots who share their love of flying with at far-away medical facilities.

o The kids who put their love of music, or drama, or sports, or community service to work and become better adults for it.

o The man who found out in time for Christmas that he has he'd never met in his 57 years.

o The church and community groups who make sure in Baker County has the chance to have a Merry Christmas

o The firefighters who work double hard to save a home that's burning, or save or even .

o The police officers who don't let mysterious crimes go unsolved, whether they are a year or

o The musicians, artists and authors who share their talents, both as performers and educators.

o The teachers who embrace the to improve the education and opportunities for local children.

o The first lady of Oregon who was a with a woman in Granite for more than a decade.

o The men and women who give their time and risk their lives as in service of their country.

o The mom who gave once at birth and again as an organ donor.

These stories are especially poignant at the holidays.

But the list goes on and on, all year long.

And the list wouldn't be so long if it weren't for readers who to these great stories and the people who perform these even greater deeds.

Thanks for giving this Herald so many good things to sing about. We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.