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Attacks on the free press are attacks on American values

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The necessity of a trusted free press to the health of American democracy has been undisputed since the founding of our republic — until now.

In recent weeks, the journalists of our free press have been slandered as “Enemies of the People” — not by a foreign power or fringe group, but by the President of the United States, the nation’s highest officer sworn to protect the Constitution enshrining the First Amendment rights those journalists exercise daily for the benefit of us all.

But President Trump’s casual use of this Stalinist epithet is only the most egregious example of a years-long campaign to destroy public trust in the news media and erode the ability of the Fourth Estate to hold our government and politicians accountable. The President routinely denounces factual reporting as “fake news” while trumpeting media outlets pushing propaganda, conspiracy theories, and outright lies as legitimate reporting. In short, the role of America’s free press is under attack — and with it, our nation’s founding values.

Without a free press that is justly trusted as a source of impartial truth, politicians and special interests have unchecked rein to lie, dissemble, and manipulate reality with impunity. Without journalists who are free to question public officials and demand information on government actions, the institutions that are supposed to protect and serve us cannot be trusted to do either. Without political leaders who respect the value of our free press to the American way of life, the world’s first constitutional democracy fails in its historic role as a beacon of freedom to all of humanity.

Trump is by no means alone, however, in the systematic attack on the role of the free press. On Aug. 12, Mayor DeBlasio had a New York Post reporter hauled away by police after he asked the mayor for comment on the paper’s recent story on the many meetings he and his top aides have had with lobbyists — meetings that DeBlasio had pledged as a candidate to disclose on a monthly basis, but only recently began revealing after four years in office, and only because of relentless pressure from the news media.

The work our reporters do in the neighborhoods we cover is as important as reporters taking leaders to task in City Hall and Washington, D.C. — and our reporters have been subjected to similar attacks, as well.

Last November, Julianne Cuba accurately reported that Community Board 18 district manager Dottie Turano had quietly filed a budget request asking the city to look at up-zoning Marine Park, and when faced with intense public blowback following the revelation, Turano denounced Cuba’s factual reporting as “fake news,” despite being unable to cite any actual error. Disdain for the free press has leached down from the very pinnacle of our government to even its most grass-roots level.

Editors and reporters across the country are standing together this week to denounce the attacks demonizing our profession and seeking to sabotage our ability to hold the people in power accountable for their actions.

And we ask you, the readers we work for, to stand with us.

Defending our free press from attacks by politicians and special interests should be a cause that rises above party, ideology, race, or any of the other fault lines along which some are seeking to divide our country. It goes to the heart of what America stands for, and is vital to the survival of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

As women’s rights pioneer and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells wrote in 1892: “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”

Jennifer Goodstein

President and Publisher, Community News Group,
NYC Community Media

Les Goodstein

CEO, Community News Group, NYC Community Media

Lincoln Anderson

Editor, The Villager

Vince DiMiceli

Editor-in-chief

Brooklyn Paper

Courier Life Publications

Bill Egbert

Editor, Downtown Express

Deputy Editor,

Courier Life Publications

Zachary Gewelb

Editor, TimesLedger Newspapers

Laura Guerriero

Publisher, Bronx Times

Anthony Rotunno

Deputy Editor,

Brooklyn Paper,

Courier Life Publications

Paul Schindler

Editor-in-chief,

Gay City News,

Manhattan Express

Scott Stiffler

Editor, Chelsea Now

Michael Kevin Williams

Associate Editor,

Caribbean Life

Updated 6:44 pm, August 16, 2018
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Reader feedback

Bob from Canarsie says:
Yes a free press is vital to this or any country however there is a big difference between a free unbiased press and a press that bands together like a pitchfork mob looking for every day the smallest error Trump makes and ignores 95% to 5% his incredible achievements. You know this, see this yet ignore that fact.
Aug. 16, 6:38 am
Cynthia Goldstein from Sheepshead Bay says:
Bob, please elaborate on his incredible achievements. Also, he libeled innocent people when he called Mexican immigrants drug dealers and worse. As a Jew, this has been done to my people and I can only imagine what the Hispanic community must be going through. Also, he has destroyed environmental protections. My immigrant neighbors here legally are trying to sponsor brothers, sisters and parents before this can no longer be done.
Aug. 16, 8:57 am
Bob from Canarsie says:
Jobs and the economy

Passage of the tax reform bill providing $5.5 billion in cuts and repealing the Obamacare mandate.
Increase of the GDP above 3 percent.
Creation of 1.7 million new jobs, cutting unemployment to 4.1 percent.
Saw the Dow Jones reach record highs.
A rebound in economic confidence to a 17-year high.
A new executive order to boost apprenticeships.
A move to boost computer sciences in Education Department programs.
Prioritizing women-owned businesses for some $500 million in SBA loans.
Killing job-stifling regulations

Signed an Executive Order demanding that two regulations be killed for every new one creates. He beat that big and cut 16 rules and regulations for every one created, saving $8.1 billion.
Signed 15 congressional regulatory cuts.
Withdrew from the Obama-era Paris Climate Agreement, ending the threat of environmental regulations.
Signed an Executive Order cutting the time for infrastructure permit approvals.
Eliminated an Obama rule on streams that Trump felt unfairly targeted the coal industry.
Fair trade

Made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Opened up the North American Free Trade Agreement for talks to better the deal for the U.S.
Worked to bring companies back to the U.S., and companies like Toyota, Mazda, Broadcom Limited, and Foxconn announced plans to open U.S. plants.
Worked to promote the sale of U.S products abroad.
Made enforcement of U.S. trade laws, especially those that involve national security, a priority.
Ended Obama’s deal with Cuba.
Aug. 16, 1:24 pm
Bob from Canarsie says:
Cynthia sorry your TDS blinds you to the greater good for our country. Sad.
Aug. 16, 1:28 pm
Melvin Band from Sheepshead Bay says:
Bob from Carnarsie is right on the money. It's not so much the reporters that Trump is criticizing, it's their bosses who own and control the major networks the ones who are major contributors of the Democratic Party. If you want to learn the truth then you have to watch ALL networks and make up your OWN mind. Watch, MSNBC, CNN and FOX. By the way, when Trump said that he would get the GDP to 4% Obamba's people said no way. They said at best Trump would get it to 2 %. Now that the GDP is at 4.1%, Obama's people are taking credit for that.
Aug. 16, 1:55 pm

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