Friday, August 10, 2018

Stand up for journalism with newspapers next week

Newspapers across the country are joining an effort by state press associations to encourage newspapers to fight back against President Trump's attacks on journalists as the "enemy of the American people" and purveyors of "fake news."

The Boston Globe, which started the effort, "proposes to publish an editorial on or as close as possible to Thursday, Aug. 16, on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date," says the News Media Alliance, a lobbying group, and Michelle Rea, president of the Newspaper Association Managers and executive director of the New York Press Association. "Publications, whatever their politics, could make a powerful statement by standing together in the common defense of their profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people."

NMA says, "The impact of Trump's assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston. Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming. A free and independent press is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution. Join the Globe to help make sure it stays so. Please email Marjorie Pritchard, deputy editorial page editor at the Globe, at if you'll be participating."

Need some help, or inspiration? The NYPA has provided a draft editorial, written by Judy Patrick, its vice president for editorial development, that can be republished with attribution, or used as a guide to writing your own your editorial. Layne Bruce, executive director of the Mississippi Press Association and a former local publisher, has a 750-word editorial that begins "Enough already."

During a panel discussion at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications convention in Washington this week, Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky and publisher of The Rural Blog, said this:
We should reassure students about the work of journalism. Take a lesson from Leonard Pitts, the Miami Herald columnist who spoke here yesterday and accepted an award from the Critical and Cultural Studies Division. He wore his L.A. Lakers hat and talked about how the Lakers and the news media are hated, and then made his point: “Nobody hates you unless you’re having an impact.”

He reminded us what journalists do: “You upset the status quo, you cause things to change . . . Maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world if you’re in the business of news.” Later, he said, “Our mission statement requires us to find the truth and tell it. But we operate in a nation where increasingly, lies not just tolerated, but embraced. And ask yourself, why shouldn’t such people hate us? If lies are your meat, if lies are your business, then people whose business is truth are by definition your natural enemies.”

And what do we tell them about the president? That he’s a politician running a daily campaign to win the news cycle, and he thinks he has to keep saying “fake news.” And we need to say anyone who uses that term as a habit is saying the news is fake, and that is a falsehood. Then we also need to remind them that these circumstances make it all the more important that what we report is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The 75-minute panel discussion was telecast and recorded by C-SPAN. To view it, click here.

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