A free press is not the enemy of the people

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The role of the press has been contentious from the very early days of our democracy. The men who authored the foundational documents of the United States enshrined a free press in the first amendment to the Constitution. For just as long, it’s been a time-honored tradition for elected officials to lambast media reports as false, wrong-headed, not accurate…and in recent years, “fake.”

More than likely, the press has also been called the “enemy of the people” before the current era. But it’s doubtful there has been such a wholesale onslaught on the public’s confidence in the press as that conducted by the current occupant of the White House.

Do we sometimes get it wrong? Yes, of course. Are we the enemy of the people? No, of course not. In a society built on the premise of self governance a free press is the very antithesis of an enemy of the people. It is a check — one of many — against attacks on a people’s call to govern themselves.

Democracies demand an ample supply of good information that the people can use to decide matters of great public interest. Journalists help with this necessary endeavor. And in doing so journalists face a dangerous job around the world, just for pursuing the truth. In the United States, suppression of the ability of journalists to do their job is a sophisticated and complex operation.

That’s why we’re joining with news outlets across the country today to say loudly and clearly, a free and functioning press is essential to our democracy. And to ask you to engage with us, let us know when we are right, let us know when we are wrong, provide us information, share our work with others. Support your local news makers.

This is our two cents, in a broad conversation happening in media outlets across the country today. Here are the editorials published by the Santa Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal, and the Las Cruces Sun-News. See more in a compilation provided by the New York Times.


4 thoughts on “A free press is not the enemy of the people

  1. Free press reporting is an important check and balance to the political extremes. Too often, politicians have criticized journalists’ reports and editorials that are critical of the policies and actions of politicians. Criticism is expected and appropriate. However, too often, those who don’t want the facts or opinions different from their own expressed are too ready to shout “fake news.”

  2. While I completely agree with the premise of this article I have always felt that a free press should serve two purposes, to inform and to influence. Much of the mainstream media has abandoned most attempts at providing unbiased information in favor of efforts to influence.

    Journalism naturally attracts folks that are more liberal minded (conservatives choose careers in engineering) and the liberal mindset is that the country is unequivocally moving in the wrong direction. Coverage of the President is a great example. Most thoughtful people with admit that he has many shortcomings. The steady stream of vitriol aimed in his direction however completely neglects some of the positive accomplishments of this administration. I believe that this coverage serves to divide rather than unite in what should be the common goal of making the country a better place to live. That is…we should be able to respectfully disagree with the President’s policies without calling him a Nazi.

    Extreme positions on either side leave little room for compromise and a bit more balanced coverage could serve to bring extremes toward the middle.

  3. You are correct that a free press is not the enemy of the people. That is why the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees a free press. And the free press even has the right to lie and slant their news to fit their agenda, but the President also has the right to speak out against this egregious abuse of their privilege.

    A seriously biased and lying press IS the enemy of the people, and that’s what the mainstream media has become. Every time I listen to the mainstream media I get nauseous as I listen to the way they constantly attack the president and give him absolutely NO credit for any of his accomplishments. They have indeed become “fake news”.

  4. Glad to read that you are sticking to your essential job in this democratic experiment we’re conducting in this country. Apparently, now are the times that try men’s souls. You and your journalistic colleagues are a bulwark against despotism and our safeguard of truth. Be safe, and keep up the good work.

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