We aren’t fake news, we are your news

Dorchester Star - - REGIONAL - Judy Pa­trick is vice pres­i­dent for editorial de­vel­op­ment for the New York Press As­so­ci­a­tion.

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.”

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