Democracy requires a free press

Last week the Boston Globe called on American newspapers, large and small, to publish editorials today in defense of a free press. And while I’ve never been a professional reporter, I worked in publishing long enough to know that freedom of the press is essential to protecting our way of life.

Our president, Donald Trump, has for months attacked the press as “fake news,” whatever that means, and called the press “the enemy of the people.” His constant, virulent attacks excite and incite his followers to the point that violence is just a hair’s breadth away. Reporters are being verbally assaulted and abused, and it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured. Trump’s attacks on the press are, in my opinion, the result of an unstable individual who can’t stand criticism and fears the public will learn the truth about him.

Nevertheless, a free press is doing its job, reporting as best it can the truth about what’s happening in Washington. The Constitution requires it. Democracy demands it.

I encourage you to read some of the editorials from around the country (about 350). A good place to start would be the New York Times, whose editorial, “A Free Press Needs You,” is followed by excerpts from and links to many other newspapers.


The Cape Cod Times
Hyannis, Mass.

“The true enemy of any democracy is ignorance,
and the only way to battle ignorance is through the acquisition of knowledge:
a single set of well-researched, incontrovertible, unbiased facts.”


The Omaha World-Herald
Omaha, Neb.

“History has demonstrated, time and again,
the importance of journalism in shining a light on government
and explaining key issues confronting communities and our nation.”


The San Francisco Chronicle and several other papers declined to participate. Chronicle writer John Diaz explains:

It plays into Trump’s narrative that the media are aligned against him. I can just anticipate his Thursday morning tweets accusing the “FAKE NEWS MEDIA” of “COLLUSION!” and “BIAS!” He surely will attempt to cite this day of editorials to discredit critical and factual news stories in the future, even though no one involved in those pieces had anything to do with this campaign.

Yes, it might play into Trump’s narrative. But isn’t media silence exactly what Trump wants? Either way, it’s a cinch his attacks won’t stop.

19 thoughts on “Democracy requires a free press

  1. The more newspapers and actual fact seeking journalists the better…need both ends – even the weird or extremists . The truth of anything usually lies somewhere in the middle – so we need both ends to watchdog and bulldogging the other. (and the foreign press, too for perspective and measure of what this appear as or what is being hidden from us here.).

    Even so I do not like organized publishing. (Although with so much cut and paste in news media in past years it seems like there are only a handful of new sources that are reproduced constantly daily in every market (cheaper – less actual employees needed at the local papers…this too is dangerous) Too much power in too few hands – and it’s always about power.

    YES! Civil, logical, thoughtful, intellectual debate must exist and be encouraged. Or we are done for. Serfdom is so close.

    (And we’d better teaching the kids to read and analyze instead of acting on emotion, assumptions, broad generalizations, and jumping to conclusions based on what all the others others say or think. This should start by 3rd grade when content areas heavily begin as kids read to learn rather than learning to read and gaining learning “tools”. And If they can’t write a solid complete logical thought, they do not have a complete idea or understanding – at any age…once again, so may “reporters” are lacking in this.)
    Ignorance, lack of vocabulary, and group think “teamwork” may be the end of us. Serfdom is so close.

    1. I’ve always said that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of all the reporting we get. Critcal thinking is so important, reading from many sources. I include the BBC and the Guardian to get more objective points of view. While I see the need and the advantage, I dislike that so many papers just spew out stories they get from AP or Reuters. I suppose that’s necessary for the smaller papers. But then I run into those blasted pay walls. I can’t afford to subscribe to all the sources I read. The worst one is right here at home. The Denver Post. I don’t think they allow any free reads at all.

      I cringe almost daily at the mistakes reporters make — spelling, pronunciation, simple facts. At times I wonder if any of them got through college. But then, these days, people are starting to say college isn’t necessary. Hmmm…

      1. Ditto to what you’ve said.
        If students apply themselves K-12, and the districts do their jobs, then each and everyone of them should be able to write clearly, do simple math, and have a working knowledge of geography and history of the world as well as nation and state….WE all did.
        But you can see the potential under the current edu systems.
        Free college or going to college isn’t going to help those who sat for 12 years and came out as empty headed as they started – (and probably dulled into being less curious and interesting in acquiring information as they were when they marched in as Kindergarteners)
        Only place ignorance leds is into inflated sense of self/abilities and off a cliff

        1. True. Some schools, and some students, are much more dedicated than others. The sad thing is that many parents and students don’t realize the importance of the potential until it’s too late. And too many schools push the kids out the door, whether they’ve learned anything or not.

          1. It’s such a loss for both the kids and the country. Kids only have one chance to grow up and get a decent basic education in the process. Otherwise they enter adulthood at an extreme disadvantage. False promises might fly as a lawsuit. They have at the college level.

    1. You’re just full of good cheer, aren’t you? I’m hoping 2020 will bring the end of him and anyone remotely like him. If Mueller doesn’t get him first. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I would so love to see Mueller take him down.

  2. I read as much as I can. I try to stay informed and on top of things. Need to say, though, that the paywalls are as close to undemocratic as you can get. Who are they serving? How is that ‘the free press’?

    1. I read and browse many different news sources on a given day and the paywalls are driving me crazy. I understand why the websites feel they are necessary, but I can’t afford to subscribe to several dozen different outlets. And the most infuriating offender is my own hometown Denver Post. I can’t find a way around their paywall and as best I can tell, they allow about one free read a month. Just another reason to read The Guardian. More objectivity and no paywall. I was so happy about it I sent them some money.

  3. Although I agree with you that we need a free press unfortunately most of the readers don’t. Each and every newspaper is a dictate to its editorial, who in turn are answerable to the owner and that itself is there agenda to preach to the converted not to win over a new audience with blinding truth. If (and it’s a big if) Trump was to prove himself the greatest president ever would CNN or The Washington Post report it, I think not

    1. And with increasingly partisan media, look at the increasingly partisan mess we have. With the advent of advocacy journnalism, the people have effectively lost their watchdog. And unfortunately, tragically, too many Americans don’t read critically and don’t read widely enough to see the true picture (or even want to see it!).

      1. It is and it has always been the duty of the press to report facts and hopefully old fashion truth, unfortunately that is no longer the case. We have the situation with Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Assange is accused of espionage by the US yet he is a publisher who received the information from Chelsea Manning, at no point has anyone said the information released by Wikileaks was untrue only that it was a crime to publish them. Now put that into context of Watergate. Where is the campaign by the free press to save Assenge. Seems now days the truth hurts.

... and that's my two cents