By The Pioneer Editorial Board
The United States of America was founded on a Bill of Rights ensuring citizens have the right to a free source of information unburdened by outside agendas. Now that right is being attacked.
With the recent change in the administration governing the U.S., President Donald Trump and other political figures denounce “the media” for sharing news they don’t agree with, labeling it as “fake news.” The White House even barred CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins from attending an open press event in July because they said her questions in regards to the news of the day were “inappropriate for that venue.”
What happened to the First Amendment?
It can’t be denied that journalists have, do and will continue to make mistakes in their reporting. But to villainize news sources is dangerous, not only for the individuals, but also for the industry itself and the democracy it serves.
If we allow our government to undermine the credibility of reputable news sources, we take a step away from democracy and shuffle towards fascism. Not only does this jaded mindset devalue the work of journalists, but it disregards the rights of American citizens.
We have the right to free speech. We have the right to report on what is happening within government and elsewhere, whether it paints the current administration in a good or bad light.
Though we cannot affect how public figures covered by the media influence their audiences, we can and will continue to relay the facts of public matters. It is not the reporter’s job to influence the masses; it is solely to inform them.
There is no ulterior motive for a journalist to get the story other than to take the news as they witness it and report it fairly and accurately. We must stress the need – the right – to a free and open press, following the same ideals that allowed for the fair and accurate reporting of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal.
The war against journalists is not something that is new or unique to this administration. Restricting the press began with our second president John Adams, when he passed the Sedition Act of 1798, making it illegal to “write, print, utter or publish… any false, scandalous and malicious writing” against the government.
President Trump’s use of social media and executive tweets to engage with the media and the rest of the world is new, but the method is the same.
News coverage in the U.S. may be under attack by the new administration, but journalists have faced this beast before. We aren’t going anywhere, and the rest of the country shouldn’t expect us to.
Journalists must persevere and strive to report the truth in all situations. And readers must continue to resist the notion that news sources are the “enemy of the people.”
As part of “the people,” journalists are allies to the public and its right to knowledge. It is our duty to maintain loyalty to our readers, viewers and listeners, and convey to them plain truths, in accordance to the foremost principle of journalism.
We must stand together, united in our vision of a world where citizens are entitled to the truth.