Guest Editorial | A free press is not the 'enemy of the people'

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By Jacob Blair

At the national level, name calling and threats against the noble pursuit of journalism have dominated the space for much of this year.
The threat of tariffs enforced to benefit one lone employer helped throw a newsprint landscape already being decimated through the loss of print advertising into deeper chaos.
And then there’s the rhetoric coming from the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C. “Enemies of the people,” the president has said repeatedly. The enemies he’s referring to? Media.
At the community news level, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While stories in national media reach far and wide across the land, community journalists fulfill a noble role that very few are willing to take on.
We wake up and go to bed each day and night in the towns we serve. We’re likely to run into readers on the street, whether it’s eating at a local establishment or simply getting the mail. We also know that the stories we write will impact our local readers, whether it’s rallying behind an athletic team or knowing we’ll have to face unhappy citizens who might take qualms with the way an event or meeting was covered.
We are neighbors, we are family and we are friends. Everyone in the community has some form of civic duty. Some volunteer with youth athletics, others are called for jury duty. Those with musical ability might sing inchurch choir or perform in a praise band. A select few have taken the responsibility to serve hundreds or thousands as elected officials.
Then there’s us, the news reporters, the Fourth Estate, the ones who have taken it upon ourselves to serve our community. We provide the essential function of keeping peopleinformed, because if we don’t we could be on the brink of losing the transparency that government needs to hold leaders accountable.
The journalism industry as a whole has heard this rhetoric “enemies of the people” over and over and over again for well more than a year. That’s why this editorial is one of more than 200, according to The Poynter Institute, being published today from daily papers as large as The New York Times to weekly outlets as small as ours. The effort is being organized by The Boston Globe. The point? To promote a First Amendment right, the freedom of the press, and denounce the constant attack of those exercising such freedom.
Mr. President, we are not an enemy of the people. Throughout America, we are community journalists doing our job and providing a vital service to our coverage area while doing so.

Jacob Blair is a former News-Herald reporter currently serving as editor of The Trimble Banner.