Our View: Journalism matters

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, October 9, 2018

“White House bans CNN reporter from event for ‘inappropriate’ questions”

“Denver police officers arrest journalists taking photos”

“Reporter held in contempt of court and arrested after recording trial”

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“Man upset with newspaper coverage shoots, kills multiple journalists in Capital Gazette newsroom”

Those are just a few of the headlines shared by the U.S. Freedom Tracker, “a database of press freedom incidents in the United States — everything from arrests of journalists and the seizure of their equipment to interrogations at the U.S. border and physical attacks. The Press Freedom Tracker documents incidents across the country, involving national, state and local authorities.”

According to the tracker, so far, in 2018, there have been five journalists arrested, 37 journalists attacked, five journalists were killed and 15 journalists subpoenaed. Last year, 34 were arrested, 15 were searched or had their equipment seized, five were stopped at the border and 45 were physically attacked.

In a time when attacks on the press — both figuratively and literally — are becoming increasingly common, we are reminded “journalism matters now more than ever.”

That is the theme of this year’s National Newspaper Week, an annual observance recognizing the service of newspapers and their employers sponsored by the Newspaper Association Managers.

Like many newspapers around the country this week, The Winchester Sun is proud to honor and celebrate National Newspaper Week.

Conversations about the press these days often turn hostile. The notion for many is that the press is the enemy.

We are here to tell you that is not the case. We are not your enemy. We are your watchdog and your source of reliable local information.

While we have dedicated our lives to sharing the news, we are also members of the community,  just like you. We are your neighbors, your friends, your customers, your family, your constituents. We are taxpayers and we have a stake in the community as well.

Our mission is to ensure transparency, while sharing all of news, whether good or bad, about our community.

We are here to cheer on our neighbors and rejoice in their successes. We are also here to hold the community accountable.

When you can’t attend a government meeting, we are there to tell you what decisions were made. When you have to miss that home football game, we are there to tell you the score. When you need to know when that meeting is, the time for that long-awaited local event or some other date, look no further than your local newspaper.

When people believe newspapers are “the enemy,” they attack the very thing that was designed to be there for them.

We make no promises we will never make a mistake or that we’ll never make someone angry with what we publish.

What we can assure is that every story, every photo and every social media post is made with careful consideration and with the best intentions for our community.

You have the right to be informed, to know what elected officials are doing, to better understand how those decisions affect you and your family.

And we are here to ensure that.

When people view their local newspaper as “the enemy,” we begin to see hostility against journalists. With that comes a fear that our press may lose some of the freedoms we have shared for centuries.

We are thankful to call the U.S. home — where people share some of the strongest protections of free speech. Let’s not be fooled into thinking those freedoms should ever be questioned.

When journalists are censored, attacked or imprisoned for doing their work, that harms the greater good. It threatens our Constitution. It makes for a less informed, less powerful public.

Good journalism is the strongest deterrent to attacks on our free speech, our rights and, ultimately, our freedom. That is why journalism matters. Now more than ever.