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Thursday
Aug162018

Newspapers Hold Up a Mirror to Make Our Country Great

Note: Today, the Anderson Observer joins newspapers across the country in repsonse to the president's continued attacks on the press.

Greg Wilson/Anderson Observer 

According to the president of the United States, I am both an “enemy to the people” of the United States and on the list of the nation’s “horrible, horrendous people.”

Having spent most of the last four decades as a journalist, it was a bit unexpected to be added to the enemy’s list of the nation’s top elected official. Then I realized I am in very good company on this list.

I have always approached my job with three goals: report the truth wherever it may be found, holding up a mirror to advocate for what is good in or for the community (state and nation) and hold up the same mirror to those who seek to do harm to others as part of their own actions or agendas. 

It is a simple path, though one which takes effort. To report the truth means carefully vetting sources and information, and holding a story until either or both of those can be properly verified. It also can be gratifying to see stories, editorials and even conversations with decision makers change because of my efforts. It can also be uncomfortable to challenge or confront, especially in my own community, when they are intentionally or unwittlingy involved in something which falls short of their position. 

It is gratifying to be a part of this process. I grew up in a family that subscribed to both a morning and evening newspaper. We were readers, and our expectation was that those local newspapers both kept us informed and those in power in check. They were our friends and neighbors. We trusted them.

The role is crucial for a free society, a fact recognized by every despot on the planet who makes a free press one of the first targets of wrath. 

Our current president, while not using the army to shut down the media, has rallied his own army of supporters to create an atmosphere of distrust and downright hostility towards those who are charged with reporting the news. 

His strategy seeks to delegitimize all media to create a climate in which nothing he says (or tweets) can be challenged and to gain sympathy from others who think the media goes overboard in holding him accountable. 

“Fake news” has become his rallying cry, and it has emboldened his core supporters and the far right to adopt his mantra in town halls across America. Any uncomfortable reporting, even if a direct quote on tape, becomes “fake news.” 

Coupled with this cry, the president has used deflection and trolling to advance his agenda. Disagreeing with, or pointing out a discrepancy in a statement or policy is met with “what about ….(Obama, Hillary, the Democrats, etc.). He also trolls the media on twitter and in public by being willfully provocative with no goal other than to stir up anger and unrest.

His approach is all the more dangerous since it has become a template for many other Republican politicians. 

Why does this matter? It’s because it’s dangerous to the core principles of our nation and dangerous to many reporters in the field. Some have been physically attacked, others received death threats, all because the president continues to fan the flames of hostility toward a group of men and women who are committed to seek truth where they can find it.  

It’s also dangerous because it’s working. I cannot count how many times at local meetings I have heard the “fake news” mantra tossed regarding stories clearly documented as true.

And so today more than 200 newspapers across the country stand together to remind Americans that we believe truth is still important. All of us will weather the onslaught of this president if we stay the course. 

Readers won't always like what they see in the mirror, but we are to hold it steady so at least the can wee what is there.

I hold out hope. Recently a local elected official pulled me aside at a meeting to discuss an editorial in the Anderson Observer critical of the political group on which he serves. 

“I don’t always agree with you, but I appreciate you do your homework and get the facts out there,” he said. 

Today I wish all my colleagues find such encouragement as we continue to get out there and “do our homework.”

References (2)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Income Taxes
    The Anderson Observer - Comment is Free - Newspapers Hold Up a Mirror to Make Our Country
  • Response
    Response: credit Mysteries
    The Anderson Observer - Comment is Free - Newspapers Hold Up a Mirror to Make Our Country

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