Editorial: The Press Is Not the ‘Enemy of the People’

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The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives. Courtesy National Archives.

Today, Aug. 16, more than 300 newspapers across the U.S. are participating in a campaign organized by the Boston Globe. In coordinated editorials, they are denouncing President Donald Trump’s wild rhetoric accusing the U.S. news industry of being “the enemy of the people.”

The Georgetowner — which, like many of its sister publications, adheres to Associated Press style and has staff who are members of the National Press Club — stands with the Boston Globe and other media outlets in support of the First Amendment, which includes freedom of the press, one of America’s most critical and distinctive freedoms.

We also express our respect for the Boston Globe, particularly its Spotlight investigative team, which won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize for its years-long, feet-on-the-ground investigative work breaking the story of widespread sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

With rights come responsibilities. We know good journalism is not the work of the enemy of the people. The president is just plain wrong when he uses provocative, sloppy and — might we even say — puerile rhetoric to make such a broad-sweeping accusation.

The work of dedicated reporters and editors, digging deep to expose wrongdoing, to get the unadulterated facts of a story and to shine a spotlight on an issue, is the definition of good journalism. While it certainly makes those in the spotlight uncomfortable, it does not make journalists into enemies. The work of good journalism actually can be seen as the work of quiet, wonky, underpaid heroes. It is essential for democracy.

In these difficult days since Trump’s unexpected election, journalists must do a better, more diligent job to be sure they are getting their stories right. Maybe there should be a media agreement not only to protest the president’s unreasonable attacks but also to pledge individually — with no collusion or directed command — to better understand why Trump voters support him and, as polls indicate, why they do not trust the press coverage of this president and his administration.

But, first, let us defend ourselves and our work — as well as the freedom of the press — today and every day.

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