Many newspapers, small and large, respond to call to action on free press

By : 
DAVID PHILLIPS
Reflections from my Notebook

Around 400 newspapers — ranging from the New York Times to small weeklies such as this one — took part in a concerted effort organized by the Boston Globe to defend the free press attacks by President Donald Trump. That was a significant number as the effort was not part of any unified national organization and there was little advance notice for newspapers to take part and produce editorials about the subject.

Not surprisingly, the president tweeted that the “fake news media” are the “opposition party” after the opinion pieces ran last week.

Somewhat surprisingly, the U.S. Senate unanimously —Democrats, Republicans and independents — passed a resolution affirming that “the press is not the enemy of the people” while condemning “the attacks on the institution of the free press.” The resolution cited remarks from Benjamin Franklin, Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Ronald Reagan and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The participating newspapers submitted editorials to a site set up by the Boston Globe. A review of the words from the nation’s press covered a wide range, with some newspapers even explaining why they weren’t taking part in the process.

The New York Times had this to say to its readers: “If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”

More interesting are the words of local newspaper people who often only speak to the readers in their geographic location. Following are quotes of editorials published last week from those local newspapers that are much like this one.

The Chinook Observer isn’t your enemy. Neither is the rest of the American press. Be annoyed all you want at errors we make, or if we exhibit instances of bias, insensitivity or laziness. But don’t believe anybody who says we’re pursuing any agenda, other than digging out the truth and reporting it as well as we can. — Chinook Observer, Washington

Those attempts to destroy rational discussion, to discredit what media reports, are the real threat to the United States.  — Deerfield Valley News, Vermont

Criticism is something that comes along with what we do. It’s difficult, but expected with each printing of the paper. However, we are not the enemy, we are your peers, friends, and neighbors. — Falls City Journal, Nebraska

Is this really what the enemy looks like? Climbing creaky stairs in old town halls for 7 p.m. meetings. Sitting on folding chairs for hours. Writing stories on those meetings that same night. Getting up too early the next day to do it again. — Hartford Courant, Connecticut

We believe the newspapers that tell the stories of communities throughout this land, from the largest to the smallest, serve as beacons of freedom and hope. — Houghton Lake Resorter, Michigan

You can call us and we pick up the phone. You email us, and we reply. We cover the news to inform you, and we get both sides of an argument. We live by a code of ethics. Just like a teacher, firefighter or police officer, you will find few people who are as committed to their work as a public servant than a journalist. It’s not a job, it’s a calling. — Journal Star of Peoria, Illinois

So who is the “enemy of the people,” after all? Well, they shop in the same stores as you. They pay taxes just like you. They send children to schools just like you. They volunteer for organizations that help others just like you. — Kenosha News, Wisconsin

Like editors across the nation, I’m not writing this to choose a side, left or right of national politics. I don’t write this as an attack on the president’s policies. Instead, I stand for others who have been under attack as “fake media.” I stand for those who have paid the ultimate price in their desire to tell the full story. I stand for myself, knowing that I strive to do the best I can each week to tell the stories of our community. — Mountrail County Promoter, North Dakota

We are not the enemy of the people. We are the people. And our commitment, as always, is to you. — News-Times, Oregon

It is well to remember that one of the things that make America great is the fact that we grant the freedom of expression even to those, who, if they got their way, would deny those same freedoms to us. — Ocala Star-Banner, Florida

We believe good, fair, in-depth storytelling, moving the community forward, understanding each other, finding commonalities, moving past rumors and celebrating accomplishments while solving problems. — Panama City News-Herald, Florida

Normally we let our work speak for itself, but these are not normal times. Today, we are taking a moment to defend an institution to which many of us have devoted our lives. — Portland Press Herald, Maine

While our newspapers may be different, today we stand together in solidarity. For we are the messenger, the champion of the underdog, the cheerleader of our youth, the spotlight on evil, the voice for the voiceless, and the eyes and ears of our communities. We are not the enemy. — Seaford Star, Delaware

The words still ring true today — an objective look at the region; meaningful journalism; frank and fair reporting about our area. We’re not your enemy. We just want to help make this community stronger. There’s nothing fake about that. — South Bend Tribune, Indiana

We are members of a proud, free and independent press, and each one of us feels a call to duty to confront and carry the truth in every word and every image of every day. That's about as real as it gets. — Sun Journal, Maine

Our reporters and editors — as do journalists throughout this nation — believe what they do is an honorable if demanding calling, one that very few will get rich at, one that can cost you friends, but one that is essential if democracy is to survive as we know it. — The Greenwood Commonwealth, Mississippi

“Enemy of the people” is a time-honored slogan hurled by some of the worst dictators in history. It is purposely meant to attack an entire group and make all of the members the recipients of a single message of hatred. — The Houma Courier, Louisiana

We run senior menus and back to school photos. Menacing the republic is not in our job descriptions. The downfall of America is not on our to-do list. We’re here to put out a newspaper and help keep our community informed. — The Times-Standard, California

Regardless of whether you think Trump is a saving grace for the nation or he is helping steer us off a steep ravine, his attacks on the press can, in no way, shape or form, be considered healthy for our democracy. — Warwick Beacon, Rhode Island

As the president and press corps battle it out on the national stage, we remain deeply committed to the mission of our news organization, which like real estate, is local, local, local. Ultimately, we are answerable to the readers and the communities we serve and it is to them we must remain credible. — Seacoast Online, New Hampshire

We are your neighbors. We are sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, dads and moms. We are grandmas and grandpas. We're taxpayers. We're hunters. We're fishermen. We're river rafters. We're artists. We're conservatives. We're liberals. Some of us own guns, some don't. — Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Idaho