Editorials send a message on freedom of press

 
Posted8/16/2018 10:54 PM
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  • Newspapers across the United States on Thursday published editorials urging President Donald Trump to end his attacks on the press.

    Newspapers across the United States on Thursday published editorials urging President Donald Trump to end his attacks on the press.

"The nation's Founding Fathers took for granted that the press would be biased and yet they still explicitly enshrined the freedom of journalists and publishers in the Constitution. 'Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,' wrote Thomas Jefferson."

-- The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts

"The president is attacking a founding tenet of the country and the Globe's effort to push back is an important statement of principle. But the president's enthusiastic misrepresentations are not the real problem. When he leaves office, the challenge of disinformation being mistaken for fact will not stop. The true challenge lies in our ability to think critically, to separate fact from very dangerous fiction."

-- The Hardwick Gazette, Hardwick, Vermont

"Credible journalists and news agencies are not the enemy of the people. We are your neighbors. Our children attend the same schools as your children. We shop at the same stores. We aren't fake news. You can call us and we pick up the phone. You email us, and we reply. We cover the news to inform you, and we get both sides of an argument."

-- The Journal Star, Peoria, Illinois

"It's downright amusing to see how angry members of the national media corps have become about Trump. Over 18 months into his presidency he has still not backed down from trying to achieve all the promises he made. And even with a weak-willed Republican Congress to work with, he has made the greatest economic turnaround seen in decades for the United States. The national media still doesn't know what to do with President Trump, so now they are crying to the American people about the names they have been called. Maybe if they focused on doing their jobs instead of worrying about their precious reputation the American people might start getting real, honest journalism again."

-- The Independent, Slidell, Louisiana

"From town halls and board rooms across the country, journalists sit through, sometimes agonizingly long, city council, school board and county board meetings. We ask questions about how your tax dollars are spent. We do our best to hold your locally elected officials accountable for decisions they make. Journalists don't do it because it's always fun. Journalists don't do it to see their name in a byline on the front page. There is no fame or wealth to be had for journalists who work long hours, day and night, weekends and holidays, trying to fulfill what we believe is our obligation as granted by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

-- The Tribune, Ames, Iowa

"Like the time that four of seven members of a school board decided to take a trip to the national school board convention in Clark County, Nevada. The local newspaper reported that Clark County includes the Las Vegas Strip, and that school board members' spouses had gone with them, paid for by taxpayer money. Not only that, but the school board had not attended conventions in decades. Fake news? No, just really inconvenient facts. Board members reimbursed taxpayers for the trip their spouses got. ... But today, the highest people in national government are calling us "the enemies of the people." Hardly. We are their enemies if they're involved in wrongdoing or malfeasance. The only weapon we have to help our readers fight that is the light of the truth we try to find and print."

-- News Examiner, Connersville, Indiana

"Journalists hold dear the First Amendment, but it wasn't written for us. It was written to protect the public from government officials -- including presidents -- who seek to hold power through secrecy and deception. The First Amendment protects your right -- your need -- to know more than what your government tells you. At a practical level, we journalists sit through boring government meetings and learn about public school financing formulas, so you don't have to. It's not as lofty a statement as the First Amendment, but it serves."

-- Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona

"This newspaper is, after all, part of the community, part of the team. There's the guy from the paper, at the meeting, the parade, the celebration, the ribbon cutting, the speech, the court, the joy, the sorrow, the lives shared. The guy from the paper, he's one of us. (Go talk to him, he's always up for a conversation.) But then that's the business, of going out and digging around, finding out what's going on, typing it up and getting the word out. That's the job, that's what we do."

-- Van Buren County Democrat, Clinton, Arkansas

"Journalists are trying to do a job. We're not trying to tear down our nation. We're trying to strengthen it. For we believe in the foundational premise behind the First Amendment -- that our nation is stronger if its people are informed. That's just as true when talking about the local city council and school board as it is when discussing national and international policymaking and politics."

-- The Mercury News, San Jose, California

"The president needs to tone down his toxic rhetoric. It simply isn't worthy of the high office that he holds. And the mainstream media -- largely centered in a Northeast bubble and seemingly oblivious to the lingering perception that they resent that Trump's rise to power happened under their noses and without their help -- need to do some soul searching."

-- The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Florida

"I can personally testify to being harassed and/or threatened for reporting in BW about failures of the powerful to protect the very values they're sworn to defend. In every instance, common sense, decency and, above all, truth prevailed. Those victories didn't come by default. They were the result of a not-so-simple pursuit of truth. It may seem obvious, but at this particular moment in our nation's history it's important to say these words with clarity: There is nothing fake, disgusting or sick about pursuing the truth."

-- Boise Weekly, Boise, Idaho

"But none of that -- the occasional mistake, the tendency to decide what's news and where to dig based on the personal values of the reporters and editors -- makes the news media 'the enemy of the people,' as President Donald Trump and some of his most steadfast supporters like to say. It makes the news media imperfect, but at least imperfect in a way that tries to be self-correcting. Who else but a newspaper, for instance, willingly gives space to its critics, not just when the criticism is justified but also when it's not?"

-- Commonwealth, Greenwood, Mississippi

"We all -- as citizens -- have a stake in this fight, and the battle lines seem pretty clear. If one first comes successfully for the press as an "enemy of the American People," what stops someone from coming next for your friends? Your family? Or you?"

-- The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Kansas

"Sounding eerily like strong-arm dictators all over the world, undermining the free press is a distinctly un-American message for someone with such patriotic branding."

-- The Trentonian, Trenton, New Jersey

"These attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry's economic crisis. And yet the journalists at those papers continue to do the hard work of asking questions and telling the stories that you otherwise wouldn't hear. ... If you haven't already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they've done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We're all in this together."

-- New York Times, New York, New York

"If the president's concerns about the press served primarily to invite the public to be critical consumers of news, The Dispatch and most other news organizations would welcome it. Being open to legitimate criticism and being committed to publishing verifiable facts are keys to preserving trust in a free and fair press. We aren't perfect, and when we make errors, we correct them. We have not seen that policy in action at the White House. We also are not stenographers or cheerleaders. Newspapers that would print only what politicians want them to report would abdicate their obligation to be impartial observers and to serve as a check on behavior that might otherwise lead to unfettered corruption."

-- The Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, Ohio

"We see this as dangerous for the simple reason that by diminishing the press, those who hold high office gain a greater ability to govern without the steadying force of public scrutiny. That's a recipe not for empowering this president, but rather for ensuring that our leaders in Washington fall out of touch with the people and decide that they know better than the people they seek to govern."

-- The Dallas Morning-News, Dallas, Texas

"When the idea that facts or truth exist is called a lie, that newspapers like ours -- yours really -- are an enemy of the American people, then anything a person of power wants to say, hear or have believed by others may come to be. We may discover how soft is the sand our protective institutions rest upon. Ask anyone with memories of Germany, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and all the Soviet Union republics -- particularly right now Georgia and Ukraine. This is so dangerous a divergence from our modern democratic tradition and rules of law that anyone who promotes the idea of "fake" news must be subject to even greater scrutiny, certainly not less."

-- The Review, Plymouth, Wisconsin

"And of all the reactions to 'Enemy of the People' the one most overpowering is disappointment. Words, after all, matter -- a point we prove every week. And those words, from that pulpit, are unacceptable and utterly, utterly, wrong."

-- The North Little Rock Times, North Little Rock, Arkansas

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