Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Newspapers appear to be banding together to counter President Donald Trump's ongoing anti-press rants and attacks with a print protest slated for Thursday, August 16.

Spearheaded by The Boston Globe, more than 100 newspapers so far have agreed to publish editorials on that day targeting Trump and his recent claims of "fake news" by traditional outlets, as well as his saying the press is the "enemy of the people." 

‘‘We are not the enemy of the people,’’ Marjorie Pritchard, Globe deputy managing editor for the editorial page said in an AP story Friday where the plan was announced. It later added, "the Globe has reached out to editorial boards nationwide to write and publish editorials on Aug. 16 denouncing what the newspaper called a 'dirty war against the free press.'’’

AP reported that as of Friday, "about 70 outlets had committed to editorials so far, with the list expected to grow. The publications ranged from large metropolitan dailies, such as the Houston Chronicle, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald and Denver Post, to small weekly papers with circulations as low as 4,000."

The move has also brought support from the American Society of News Editors and the New England  Newspaper and Press Association.

Michael MaLoon, vice-president for innovation and communication at the News Media Alliance (formerly the Newspaper Association of America) told me that his organization sent a request for newspapers to join in to its nearly 2,000 members on Friday and again on Monday. 

"We distributed that request to our folks, we are in support of the efforts and we were more than willing to distribute that request out to our members," he said in an interview. "It's a positive effort on both the Globe and invited publishers; we are talking about folks who are trained journalists and really look to report the facts, correct mistakes and make sure what they are reporting is true and factual, we need to enforce that."

See the NMA appeal to its members below: 

The Boston Globe is reaching out to editorial boards across the country to propose a coordinated response. The Globe proposes to publish an editorial on or as close as possible to Thursday, August 16 on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date. Publications, whatever their politics, could make a powerful statement by standing together in the common defense of their profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people. 

The impact of Trump's assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston. Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.

A free and independent press is one of the most sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution. Join The Globe to help make sure it stays so.

The NMA also provided a draft of an editorial that many of the papers plan to use, which was first distributed by the New York Press Association.

See that draft editorial below:

We’ve been complacent.We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and that all this talk about us being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is.

But the reckless attacks have continued, instigated and encouraged by our president.

When the leader of the free world works to erode the public’s trust in the media, the potential for damage is enormous, both here and abroad. We once set an example of free and open government for the world to follow. Now those who seek to suppress the free flow of information are doing so with impunity.

The time has come for us to stand up to the bullying. The role journalism plays in our free society is too crucial to allow this degradation to continue.

We aren’t the enemy of the people. We are the people. We aren’t fake news. We are your news and we struggle night and day to get the facts right.

On bitter cold January nights, we’re the people’s eyes and ears at town, village and school board meetings. We tell the stories of our communities, from the fun of a county fair to the despair a family faces when a loved one is killed.

We are always by your side. We shop the same stores, attend the same churches and hike the same trails. We struggle with daycare and worry about paying for retirement.

In our work as journalists, our first loyalty is to you. Our work is guided by a set of principles that demand objectivity, independence, open-mindedness and the pursuit of the truth. We make mistakes, we know. There’s nothing we hate more than errors but we acknowledge them, correct them and learn from them.

Our work is a labor of love because we love our country and believe we are playing a vital role in our democracy. Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed and that’s what we’re here to do. We go beyond the government issued press release or briefing and ask tough questions. We hold people in power accountable for their actions. Some think we’re rude to question and challenge. We know it’s our obligation.

People have been criticizing the press for generations. We are not perfect. But we’re striving every day to be a better version of ourselves than we were the day before.

That’s why we welcome criticism. But unwarranted attacks that undermine your trust in us cannot stand. The problem has become so serious that newspapers across the nation are speaking out against these attacks in one voice today on their editorial pages.

As women’s rights pioneer and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells wrote in 1892: “The people must know before they can act and there is no educator to compare with the press.” 

It's unclear how many, if any, of the papers will place the editorial on the front page. 

This is the second time this year that newspapers have united to oppose anti-press efforts.

In February, seven newspapers in Washington State published front-page editorials denouncing a proposed law that would have protected the state legislature from all state open government laws.

Senate Bill 6617 exempted both state houses from the state Public Records Act. To add to the sleaziness of it, the bill was approved just one month after a judge ruled that the state legislature was subject to the act. 

Even more disturbing was the process that was used to ram through the bill — no committee process, no meaningful public hearing and no debate on the Senate or House floors,” The Seattle Times wrote in its front-page editorial on Feb. 27, 2018. “Yes, and lawmakers defending their vote called it a transparency bill. The public will have more access than it did, more than one lawmaker said. Well, a little more than nothing is not very much.”   

Ten news media organizations including The Associated Press and The Times filed suit against the bill, while six other daily papers also published Page One editorials slamming the secrecy effort. Those included the The News Tribune of Tacoma, The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, The Olympian, The Columbian of Vancouver, The Bellingham Herald, The Tri-City Herald, The Yakima Herald-Republic and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin 

Eventually, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed the exemption bill. 

Will the latest editorial protests have any similar effect on Trump, or readers who might believe his fake news lies? Let's hope so. 

No comments:

Post a Comment