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Editorial: Media bashing is an attack on democracy

Editorial Board • Aug 16, 2018 at 12:42 PM

The drumbeat pounds daily, and has for almost three years. If it weren’t for the dangers of the beat, it would be easy to ignore. After all, almost any constant sound becomes just part of daily environmental noise, whether it be in the office, the home or out on the road.

But this drumbeat — the constant, unrelenting and, frankly untruthful bashing of “the media” — by President Trump strikes at the core of much more than an industry. It attempts to drive a stake into the heart of democracy, freedom and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, a document the president says he holds in high esteem.

“You’re just being thinskinned,” will be the response of many of Trump’s supporters.

Others will have sipped from the same cup as the president and decry the media as “crooked” or “unpatriotic.” And it is perhaps the accusation that the media is unpatriotic that we find most troubling.

To the contrary, other than the U.S. flag, there may be no more visible symbol of patriotism in the United States than the media. Because a true patriot will defend the Constitution, even if it means being highly critical of those who might attempt to undermine its principles or destroy it from within.

But that’s big picture. And unfortunately those in local media also catch the backlash of the anti-press drumbeat. Like President Trump, too many of his followers put all media into the same heap. The trouble with that logic is that the Times News and hundreds of other community newspapers and television and radio stations around the country rarely focus on matters of national importance. Local reporting on local issues consumes our day. Do we run wire stories on national issues? Yes, because our readers demand it.

But day in and day out, our focus remains on the communities we cover. Nowhere else will you find comprehensive reporting on your local school boards, a hospital merger, local elections, city and county elected boards, economic development, and the importance of the regionalism initiatives. Nowhere else will you find extensive events calendars, church listings, accomplishments of our local students, and legal announcements. The list goes on.

But here’s the problem: President Trump lumps us all together, except Fox News of course. He fails to recognize the important role a free press plays in the communities it serves. And that’s all press, whether it be newspapers, television, radio or a local online-only publication. We bring you news and information you can’t get anywhere else. We assemble it for easy consumption and bring it to you fresh every day.

President Trump, if you have a beef with CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times or The Washington Post, call them out individually (but only if it’s a legitimate concern). But sir, you know nothing of local media nor the service we provide to thousands in our communities. While you may feel better with your boastful, blanket accusations, you are doing a great disservice to your country and your constituency.

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