Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rural newspapers defend the importance of a free press

This North Dakota paper's home page highlights its editorial.
This week hundreds of newspapers joined The Boston Globe in defending the importance of a free press and standing up to President Trump's assertions that journalists are enemies of the people. Here's what some rural papers said:

Terri Lynn Oldham House writes in The Pagosa Springs Sun in Colorado: "We are not your enemy. We are your ally." His concern with President Trump calling the media enemies of the people isn't about "whether you’re a conservative or a liberal. Heck, on any given day we have been called both conservative and liberal two or three times over. That doesn’t matter to us. What matters to us is keeping the public informed. We agree with the president that 'fake news' is irresponsible and dangerous. You find it everywhere on social media these days, but you won’t find it in this community newspaper."

Editor Jeff Neal of the Commonwealth-Journal in Somerset, Ky., writes that, like all professions, "there are a few journalists out there who don't need to be in the business. But about 90 percent of us are hard-working and invested in what we do." Far from trying to promote an agenda, the reporters at the Commonwealth Journal "strive, day in and day out, to report the news fairly and accurately. And we do so even with supporters of these politicians screaming 'fake news' at every piece of information they don't want to see."

Co-publisher and general counsel Jack Clark of the Idyllwild Town Crier in California questions the source of allegations that the news media is unreliable: "When President Trump attempts to brand these institutions as 'enemies of the people,' he tells us far more about himself than he does them. When — as he did regarding the Charlottesville incident — he states one opinion on Saturday, says the opposite on Monday, returns to his original statement on Tuesday, and then on Thursday denies any contradictions at all, he marks his own statements as unreliable — even as to his opinions. He has repeatedly, virtually daily, made misrepresentations to the American people. The Washington Post publishes a running report on Trump’s spoken and tweeted falsehoods, which to date tally more than 4,000, just since becoming president."

The Van Buren County Democrat in Arkansas says local newspapers are part of the community, though "not everybody likes it when their business is put out for public review, even when it’s public business, even when it deserves review, even when it’s done by the guy from the paper."

The Valley News in Lebanon, N.H., says Trump isn't the first president who has tried to intimidate news organizations, but "the language he employs is different in quality and quantity, and poses the very real danger that it will incite some troubled soul to an act of appalling violence. Emotions are running high these days, and Trump’s rhetoric fuels that fire not only at home but also abroad, where authoritarian leaders have seized on his 'fake news' condemnation to undermine independent journalism in their own countries."

Some other headlines: "Stand against president's slur" —The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Ky.
"Committing an act of journalism is not a crime" —The Kentucky Standard, Bardstown, Ky.
"Make no mistake: This attack on our free press — your free press — is deliberate and calculated." —The Commons, Brattleboro, Vt.
"Join America’s free press in defense of freedom: Every size publication plays a role in democracy." —The Daily Astorian, Astoria, Ore.
"Perspective on truth, lies, respect and hate" —The Lakeville Journal, Falls Village, Conn., and The Millerton (N.Y.) News
"Anger and Divisiveness Are the Enemy—Not the Free Press" —Coachella Valley Independent, Cathedral City, Calif.
"We are not your enemy" —The News and Farmer (The Augusta Chronicle), Louisville, Ga.
"We are the people" —Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch, Kyle and Dripping Springs, Texas
Thanks to The New York Times, from whose compilation most of these examples were drawn. The Globe has its own compilation from "editorial boards both conservative and liberal."

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