Journalism ensures progress and free speech

The press is threatened by Trump administration.


Eliana Park/THE CHIMES

Lucas Weaver, Writer

Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Washington in 1792, “No government ought to to be without censors: And where the press is free, no one ever will.” The founders of our nation understood the importance of the press, but sadly, it seems our leaders today have forgotten this pillar of our nation. The press is part of what has allowed America to progress and better itself over the years. It has kept leaders in check whose agendas have strayed from what is best for the people who elected them to their own selfish premises.

Yet in modern times, the press is not trusted by the public because our leaders publicly lament it and tear it down. President Donald Trump has called journalists “a group of the most dishonest people on earth.” President Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who has called the media “the opposition party,” is doing nothing but pushing President Trump towards further censoring the media. When asked about the relationship between the press and the Trump administration in the future, Bannon said, “It’s not only going to not get better. It’s going to get worse every day.” This absurd statement clearly suggests an unwillingness to work with the press but a willingness to discredit news organizations.

Relentless attacks

These news organizations are in a battle to keep approval ratings up and their audiences following them. With the relentless attack on the press and journalists, it certainly does not look like an attractive career for young college students to get into. So what is the solution to this assault on democracy? Insert the late Wayne Barrett. Barrett passed away several weeks ago, but he will be remembered for his ardent pursuit of the truth and willingness to hold those in positions of power accountable no matter which side they resided. Barrett embodied the old-fashioned ways of journalists who dug for the truth and took the time to find it before reporting it. Barrett would not be swayed by malicious attacks from billionaires and politicians and was notorious for holding politicians and wealthy businessmen, including Trump, accountable in New York. In fact, he was the first reporter to investigate Trump and reported on him tirelessly over the years. He passed away the day before Trump was sworn into office.

His death should help send a message to journalists around the globe. It should inspire them to not be swayed by attempts to silence the truth and discredit one’s profession. There should be no disgrace in reporting the facts and bringing to light truths about those in positions of power. Wayne Barrett would not stop pursuing the truth because of low approval ratings or being called “dishonest” by a president. The credo Barrett did not alter from was this: “The exposure of the plunderers, the steerers, the wirepullers, the bosses, the brokers, the campaign fixers and takers. …Stew, percolate, pester, track, burrow, besiege, confront, damage, level. Care.” There is not a time when facts and reporting the truth are more important. Barrett considered himself a “detective of the people,” putting in unending hours in the pursuit of the truth. It is harder now since everyone wants to be the first to report an issue or scandal. Facts are left out and truth is rushed by. The truth is what our country needs, not the quickest assumption one can come by.

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