Journalists are not the enemy

Hang on to your hats, folks. I’m about to get political up in here.

Again.

The older I get, the less I’m willing to hold my tongue—and when a Cheet-O-headed blowhard known for abusing and insulting women and minorities declares me an “enemy of the people,” I get more than a little testy.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-4-14-04-pmThis week, the Washington Post unveiled a new slogan, front and center on its website: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” (Stephen Colbert joked that rejected slogans included “We took down Nixon—who wants next?” And THAT was one of the high points of the week that was.)

Journalists, of which I’ve been one since the early- to mid-90s, are not enemies of the people. Journalists, at least the ones working in the many community newsrooms around the country, are hard-working men and women who try their hardest to bring readers the stories that matter.

We don’t sit around plotting to take down the mayor or congressman. But if we hear a rumor said mayor or congressman is taking bribes to expedite construction of a massive industrial park, you bet your butt we won’t stop until we suss out the truth. If the rumor can be substantiated, we let everyone know.

We talk to people—real people—who live in the community, about the things that matter to them. We then share their stories. We talk to grieving widows and parents who’ve lost their children to terrible diseases. To school and city officials with exciting new initiatives to tout. To student-athletes who’ve just won a state championship or who are on their way to the College World Series.

We talk to good samaritans who pay vet bills after a tragic accident, and to overjoyed parents who, with community support, raise enough money to finally obtain a service dog for their child.

We care about accuracy. If someone tells us we’ve made an error, we correct it as soon as possible—but we try not to make errors in the first place. No one likes to tell the boss “I need a correction.”

Like many Americans, we’re overworked and underpaid, expected to keep doing more and more with less. (Which can contribute to the mistakes we do make.) We work long hours without (much) complaining, and we try always to do our best. Sound familiar?

We’re not enemies of the people. We’re just people. Plain and simple.

We’re parents raising young children, worried about making sure they become productive members of society. Or we’re parents with children grown and on their own, hoping they make smart decisions and watching them thrive. Some of us are single; others are engaged and planning big, romantic weddings.

We try to eat right, get enough sleep and find our exercise soul mates. We gain and lose weight; we overindulge at our favorite restaurants; we accidentally end up wasting money on terrible movies. Just like most Americans.

No, the real enemy of the people is the man sitting in the White House right now. You know, the one trying his damnedest to dismantle the country, piece by piece, with his executive orders and know-little cabinet picks. He doesn’t care about people—unless they can be of use to him somehow. Every time he opens his mouth, another insult or lie spews out.

And as I was writing this post, news broke that certain members of the press corps were excluded from a White House press gaggle, prompting others to boycott.

This is dangerous stuff, folks. Freedom of the press is part of the First Amendment. FIRST, not last.

#NotTheEnemy

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