Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Journalists are not the ‘enemy of the people,’ they are the people

Journalism students are used to bracing themselves when revealing their chosen field of work. At the dentist? Sigh when they say, “I hope you’re one of the good ones.” At a family event? Chuckle at your uncle’s “fake news” one-liners and, once you’re alone with the chips and guacamole, seriously ask yourself if you should switch to public relations.  

The effects of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric go far beyond the bubble of his supporters or even the right wing. Your regular old dentist might not believe the press is the “enemy of the people” or that journalists should be “gunned down.” But when his first association with the profession are those infamous two words — fake news — it’s clear that the public perception of the press has been corroded to a point where even those who don’t buy into Trump’s ideology can’t help but view journalists as shady figures.

The public impression of journalists themselves, though, is not the only problem. Journalists shouldn’t need to be lauded or even recognized in order to do their jobs. The problem is that Trump’s rhetoric has fueled hostility on both sides of the aisle, and now, polarization on current issues leads people to distrust news sources that present stories they simply don’t agree with.

Most of us at the FreeP didn’t realize when we decided to apply for the school newspaper that we were making a political statement.

An increase in public hostility and a decline in funding for newsrooms across the nation spells trouble for the future of the industry — newsrooms are being cut in half left and right. They need public support in order to survive, and the disconnect between the public and the press must be bridged.

A misunderstanding exists between what journalists actually do and what people think their job entails, but public perception — that the press is an unreachable entity rather than real individuals — is difficult to combat. When the press talks about itself, efforts to clarify the nature of journalists’ work or the importance of a free press are often interpreted as self-promotion or liberal bias. But if the press doesn’t talk about itself, who will? Who else will start a public discourse, produce free radio content reaching into the most rural cracks of Middle America or write with a level of simplicity that can be understood by elementary schoolers?  

Freedom of the press is taken for granted. Constitutionally-granted freedoms are always subject to change based on whether people believe in them or not. To say that freedom of the press is important because it’s guaranteed by the First Amendment is not enough to convince people of its importance, and the “the press is a safeguard against democratic tyranny” line doesn’t quite work on those who aren’t opposed to democratic tyranny.

When the public falls into the trap of believing that what’s true is false and those who tell the truth cannot be trusted, everyone loses.

Most of us at the FreeP didn’t realize when we decided to apply for the school newspaper that we were making a political statement. We didn’t realize that “studying journalism” would become synonymous with “hating Trump.” To identify our career in the dentist’s office or at a family event would be to identify our political alliance and invite what could be a hostile response. A lot of us have been yelled at, screamed at or have been on the receiving end of everything in between while trying to learn how to become journalists. But, we haven’t given up yet, because we really care about getting things right.

Like any industry, the press isn’t perfect. There will always be people in positions of power without the best interest of the American people in mind. There will always be people who are corrupted by personal fame and fortune. It’s not only fair, but necessary for the public to criticize these individuals and the industry that supports them when they fail to serve as a source of objectivity.

However, when the public falls into the trap of believing that what’s true is false and those who tell the truth cannot be trusted, everyone loses. They must be able to see beyond these figures to the real journalists working long hours for little pay — or for no pay, as college students — out of a passion for providing public information. Even when Trump’s term ends, the effect of his rhetoric is a stain that has bled through onto these hardworking people and will be difficult to scrub away.


  1. Well said. And intelligent far beyond the years of the young writers. Nothing but the truth in this column. Pleased to see The Daily Free Press get a shout out and link from the Times.

  2. Journalist that report the news unbiased and fair are not part of the fake news . The president never attacked journalist in general only those who report fake politically biased news

  3. as one of Japanese,
    Objection from Many US Media against their “Leader” look enviable movement.

    Also Japan is under similar situation but Japanese mainstream Media cannot do same thing.

    For example,
    Chairman or executives of Japanese Major Media often enjoy to dine with Prime Minister Abe.

    One of them,TV Asahi has weakened Criticism of Plural News Shows by self-censorship or hesitation to Abe Government and its Supporters.
    and,Government’s vindicater who justify even Anti-LGBT politicians become anchor of noon time weekday news show.

    Criticism against Abe Government has decreased from Japanese Major Media year by year.

  4. #DonaldTrump is destroying #America, its #RuleOfLaw, #FreedomOfSpeech, #FreedomOfThePress. @HouseGOP & @SenateGOP condone it. Don’t let US become an #AmericanDictatorship.
    #Massachussetts: #VoteBlueToSaveAmerica

  5. Editors,

    I seriously doubt if you even care about the REAL reasons why the people consider you and your peers the enemy of the people, but I will give my perspective.

    Since Trump has taken office, the press has relentlessly shown their liberal bias with constant negative reporting about almost everything you can regarding him. Statistically, 90% of what has been reported is negative. When you do report any positives about his accomplishments, they are minimized, given little creedence and press coverage.

    All too many times we see your half truths, “reporting” by omission, or placing a negative spin on what you begrudgingly decide to report. As an example, when the GDP grew at 4.1% you barely reported it and then said that Trump only brought it up to deflect from other issues. This economy is exploding, yet you barely report that. Had this happened during the Obama regime, you would have been splattering that all over the front pages and saying it was a great accomplishment. You would have slobbered all over his greatness. However, several of your cohorts are now trying to attribute this growth to Obama – another lie

    You continue to attack Trump in your own “editorial” rather than stick to the facts and prove you are COMPLETELY truthful and unbiased. For Trump supporters, you follow the Democrat’s beliefs that they are uneducated, racists and whatever other derogatory terms you choose to use to berate and minimize them.

    We see time and time again where you have actively supported hate groups like antifa and black lives matter, but condemn the KKK
    and white people. You berate Trump for saying “I’d like to punch that guy in the mouth”. However, when Maxine Waters commits an act of sedition, you barely reported it, glorified it and then say nothing about her actively encouraging violence. How hypocritical is that?

    During the Obama regime, you did little to report on operation fast and furious. You said very little about the abysmal failure of their handling of Benghazi. You said NOTHING when ILLEGALS were put in cages in 2014, but used the photos to blame Trump in 2018. You said little about Hillary using her private email service and unsecured server to view classified information, which is a felony. You said NOTHING about her using her position in the state department to get “donations” for her “charity” in exchange for favors (uranium one comes to mind). How much money have the Haitians received from their charity? You continue to ignore the fact that her campaign paid for the phony dossier on Trump and were the first to contact the Russians for any dirt on him.

    When that joke of a news reader, Jim Acosta of the communist news network received a dose of his own medicine and was verbally (not physically) harassed, you quickly circled the wagons and decried it as something terrible. You do that to Sarah Huckabee every day. One of your peers even blamed the Trump administration for the killings in Annapolis. When the shoe is on the other foot, you don’t like it.

    The media today is owned and operated by those who wish to control what the people hear or read. You and your peers have become willing pawns to that belief. You scream to the rooftops about protecting your first amendment rights and freedom of the press. However, you falsely report “factual” statistics on the second amendment and you say nothing about recent laws passed in several states that infringe on our fourth amendment rights.

    Your true job is to report the FACTS, good or bad, in an unbiased, fair and impartial manner. It is not your responsibility to be so biased that the truth is conveniently shoved to the side like you do so often in order to get higher ratings. In this area you have failed miserably to do your job. What happened to you adhering to the basics of reporting – who, what, where, when and how? What too happened to “Just the facts, just the facts.”?

    When the media takes these actions like you have, they are nothing more than a propaganda machine. Now you have again circled the wagons and proclaim your honesty and innocence by conspiring with the many other media outlets at the same time. That is why so many believe you ARE the enemy of the people. Nobody is advocating any sort of violence against any of you or your peers. However, the people no longer trust you. Go back to your roots, tell the real truth, the real story, and then maybe people will change their beliefs over time.

    Abraham Lincoln once said ” You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. But, you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” The people have finally seen your attempts fool them and are no longer buying the excrememt you spread.

  6. Well said JW and John!
    I am a news junkie and watch all the channels. The Main Street media is very liberal and will only report one side of issues. They also will make things up to support their cause. I remember watching the coverage of the shooting Treyvaugn Martin. The media kept saying he was shot by a white man George Zimmerman when you see Zimmerman does not look white. Finally they called him a white hispanic. They wanted the story to be white on black. They also made him out to be a police officer he was neighborhood watch volunteer. The worst was when they played the tape of Zimmerman calling 911. Zimmerman was still on the phone after the call supposedly ended and according to CNN and NBC agreed as a group that he said fucking loon. After takes were reviewe by technical experts what he said was fucking cold
    That night was unusually cold.
    Even the Fergerson shooting of brown was reported that the police officer was wrong Forensics was in favor of the officer. Many witnesses across the street in an apartment building
    Were fearful to report what they saw because some groups put fliers out to not participate with the police. Read the grand journey transcript. US media wasn’t really interested in the truth