More than 300 news publications across the country – including The Baltimore Sun – joined together “to defend the role of a free press and denounce President Trump’s ongoing attacks on the news media” in coordinated editorials published Thursday, according to a tally by The Boston Globe, reports NPR, which added that the effort was spearheaded by staff members of the editorial page at the Globe, who wrote, “This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences. We asked editorial boards from around the country – liberal and conservative, large and small – to join us today to address this fundamental threat in their own words.”
Editorials are typically written by opinion writers and are considered separate from organizations’ news coverage. NPR, for example, has a separate “opinion” category.
According to the NPR story, “Trump made bashing the news media — “horrible, horrendous people” — a staple of his candidacy and a constant throughout his presidency.
“He’s tweeted at least seven times since June referring to the news media in some way as the “enemy of the people.”
“A slim majority of Republican respondents, 51 percent, consider the news media the “enemy of the people” in a poll released Tuesday by Quinnipiac University. Thirty-six percent of Republicans thought the media were “an important part of democracy.”
The editorial in The Baltimore Sun, in part, stated: “it’s our job to hold the powerful accountable. We do that by asking questions and challenging administration after administration — be they at the White House or in City Hall (here in Baltimore, the City Council president and mayor, both Democrats, also have complained about press interference). Most of our readers expect that from us, even when they don’t agree with us. And so, regardless of how it looks, we ultimately feel the need to point out that a free press is critical to a properly functioning America. Five of our fellow staffers at the Capital Gazette gave their lives for this cause when they were attacked by a gunman in their Annapolis newsroom in June. Our commitment to protecting the First Amendment and resisting any assaults on the free press is stronger than ever.”
A number of organizations reflecting the advertising, communications and public relations professions, issued a joint statement in support of the media, stating: “Today we join with our compatriots in the news media to proudly affirm the Fourth Estate as a vital engine of democracy. Without it, and without freedom of thought and expression as provided by the First Amendment, informed decision-making is not possible and individual freedoms suffer. From a global perspective, journalism serves all people through ethical pursuit of the truth.
“As organizations devoted to professionals across the communications industry, we are dependent on a free press, and rely upon it as we speak honestly and fearlessly on behalf of ourselves, our companies, clients and causes. A free press provides citizens access to information and opinions so they can make their own judgments.
“We collaboratively declare our support for journalists who bravely seek the truth, focus on facts, and hold government, business and other institutions accountable.”
The statement was signed by The American Advertising Federation, The Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, The Arthur W. Page Society, The Commission on Public Relations Education, The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, The Institute for Public Relations, The International Association of Business Communicators, The Public Relations Council and The Public Relations Society of America.
(Cartoon by Steve Breen appearing in The Baltimore Sun.)