Editorial: Not the enemy of the people

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Illustration by Rocio Macias

As journalism students, it is learned from day one that we must always be receptive to criticism from our advisers, readers and those we cover.

However, there is a drastic difference between rightful and welcomed criticism and those who use their power to invalidate and attack honest reporting.

President Donald Trump has used his influential role as a weapon to discredit all news that reports on him and his administration’s shortcomings.

Trump has created an environment in which people feel they’re better off consuming no news at all—or maybe getting it from one source, breeding a generation of citizens who will not know the difference between Facebook’s trending news items and professionally gathered reporting.

Due to the severity of this problem, The Boston Globe made a call to action in their editorial Aug. 15.

“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘the enemy of the people.’ This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences,” The Boston Globe said in their editorial.

We, the Viewpoints Editorial Board, stand together with fellow student and professional journalists to defend the importance of the free and independent press.

Not only is the president’s constant villainizing of the press a blatant disregard for a basic constitutional right, it’s a dangerous rhetoric with a body count.

The murders of four journalists and a media worker at the Capital Gazette earlier this year is still heavy on the hearts of working journalists and student journalists alike.

According to records from the Committee to Protect Journalist, this is the deadliest year for journalists in the United States since the organization began keeping records in 1992. At this point in 2018, the United States is the third deadliest country for journalists globally after Afghanistan and Syria.

The press is not the enemy of the people. The press is the enemy of the powerful, unaccountable and corrupt, the unjust, unethical and dishonest, the bully, the blowhard. Those who cover up, run around and present false pretense. Let’s be clear: that’s made the press the enemy of one person.

Presidents, whether or not they are pleased with news reports, should acknowledge and respect the idea that journalists must be free from government control. Punishing journalists for reporting that the government does not approve of will only lead the country to disaster.

People don’t need to like the press, but they need to accept its existence and importance. Without the media, the country would be blind.

Here at Viewpoints, we take our mission to accurately report the news and serve our audience seriously, especially as the increasing number of layoffs at the local level causes several newsrooms’ resources to dwindle.

Undoubtedly the press make mistakes. When we do, we issue corrections. Inaccurate reporting has no part in our business. Our goal each and every day is to provide our readers with a fair, truthful and accurate account of the happenings within our college and our community.

The power of student-generated media must not be overlooked, especially since it represents a voice that otherwise may not be heard.

While it is true that news vans roll onto campus for occasional coverage, none of them will stick around for the college’s board meetings nor will they showcase the latest art gallery installment like Viewpoints can and regularly does. Student voices will not be muted so long as student newspapers remain strong and uncensored by their administrations.

We are dedicated to a better tomorrow that will air the voices of those who are silenced. We will work to defend justice and to inform our communities as students growing and learning to become professionals with the same promise.

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