Attacks on free and independent press serve to undermine democracy, vilify journalists

This editorial is no shot heard around the world.

However, like that historic shot in 1775, it originated in the greater Boston area in response to bullying.

Unlike that gunshot, though, the force of these words is no call to war or portent of violence.

They are the absolute opposite, but do reflect a determination by journalists to defend our profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people.

This editorial answers a call by the Boston Globe to publications nationwide, whatever their politics, to speak out against unwarranted attacks on the press today.

Unfortunately, those attacks emanate from the leader of the free world and undermine the public’s trust in media outlets in print, on the air and online.

Moreover, though these attacks denigrate journalism in America, not to mention free and open government, it has sent a chill around the world.

Many foreign governments see these attacks here as a green light to suppress, if not outlaw, the free flow of information in their countries.

For anyone to suggest we are the enemy of the people is not simply wrongheaded, but vilifies one of the Constitution’s most honored principles.

A free and independent press is not some luxury developed nations like ours simply tolerates, it is essential to democracy, if not a cornerstone.

If we are to continue to govern ourselves and elect our own leaders it’s critical everyone be informed of the goings on at every level of government.

We are not enemies of the people. Indeed, we are as much one of the people as anyone reading this.

Our children go to the same schools, we go to the same churches, we walk the same rail-trails, sit in the same traffic and cheer for the same team.

We struggle to keep up with cutting the grass and paying medical bills like everyone else. And there is no one school of political thought at newspapers. The truth is not red or blue.

True, the questions we ask may often seem insensitive or rude, but that is not who we are. That’s our job as the public’s advocate — to challenge and be skeptical.

We strive to get our facts straight but we make mistakes, some we lose sleep over or become almost morose over.

But unlike many enterprises, institutions and leaders we openly acknowledge our mistakes, correct them and learn from them.

We don’t dismiss or reject criticism. Matter of fact, we publish it almost daily. But we find these recent attacks on the media as reckless and unfounded. They are solely intended to hollow out the role of a free press.

We don’t like bullies and God knows we try not to take every insult personally.

But we will be the first to stand up for the truth and our first loyalty, the people.

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