On Aug. 16, hundreds of newspapers across the country responded to a call for editorials emphasizing the role of a free press the country's history as a democracy and reminding readers that journalists are not the enemy of the people.
This was a significant point for the editorial boards of local, community newspapers, who took the opportunity to point out the important work their staffs do.
Here are some excerpts from some of the editorials published by Texas newspapers on Aug. 16.
"Fact is, we are not the enemy of the people — we are the people. At the Denton Record-Chronicle, our journalists are your neighbors, your fellow commuters, your church congregants. We are impacted by the same policies and tax rates as you, and our stories often are generated out of the same struggles.
We are not fake news — we are your news. And regardless of the unwarranted attacks, we will continue to persevere in pursuing the truth. Today, we add our voice to that of newspapers the nation over in taking a stand for a free and unfettered press you can trust — exactly as our founders envisioned."
"... In a free society, readers should be able to sort through ... and make your own decisions about what is valuable or vapid. At The Beaumont Enterprise, we strive to
tell you every day about the good and bad and unusual things that happen in Southeast Texas. When we make a mistake — and we do occasionally, because we’re fallible humans — we correct it. But we’ve also revealed public corruption and abuse of power of every stripe. That’s information you need to know."
“However, the problem is we have allowed opinions of national media (and their practice of mixing opinion with “breaking news”) to permeate into local media, and this is inaccurate and unfair. And this can detract from the invaluable role that local newspapers play in their communities.
For example, local newspaper reporters are not thinking of tweets from the president when they report on the details of a city budget. Local newspaper reporters are not worried about Hillary Clinton when they cover a local government scandal.”
"The Victoria Advocate is the second-oldest newspaper in the state. We have proudly reflected our community, through both good and bad times, through tragedy and triumph, for 173 years.
We are under a third generation of family ownership that spans 65 years.
Our slogan reflects how we feel about our community: 'From here, for here.'
Our journalists work on your behalf, covering government meetings, digging deep for investigative stories, shedding light on wrongdoing, and giving a voice to the voiceless.
And, when such cases arise, we hold governmental bodies accountable, ensuring their actions are legal or in the best intentions of citizens."
"...Providing hard news with relevant detail and critical context through our questions and research is what most news media do without fanfare. Without them, Americans are left to government-run media and social-media rumor mills and, not coincidentally, sure and certain ruin of their increasingly battered republic."
"Over the centuries, presidents have had different ways of dealing with a critical press. Some ignore it. Others criticize it. And still others refuse to grant interviews to media they consider unfriendly.
But one they have not done is to criticize them as fake. Even at their angriest at some or all of the press, presidents have understood the importance of a free media and the role it plays in keeping America free. How else would Americans know what their government is doing in their name?"
..."It’s the job of Statesman reporters to bring you articles that may make you uncomfortable. You should know what officials are doing (or not doing) to safeguard schools from shooters. You should know why children on Medicaid aren’t getting the care they need, or why City Hall initially shrugged off significant billing errors for some Austin utility customers.
We care about these issues because we’re your neighbors. We’re members of the PTA. We’re taxpayers who feel the squeeze as Austin becomes less affordable. We worship beside
you at church and volunteer next to you at pet rescue organizations. We share your frustration when road projects run late and over budget, because we’re stuck in traffic every day, too."
San Antonio Express-News
"Journalists sit through long, boring public meetings so you don’t have to. They sift through mind-numbing records and haggle with PR people and officials about word choices. They listen to developers drone on and on about their projects, and then listen to neighborhood association presidents worry about those projects. They chase down tips that almost never turn out to be accurate.
Enemy of the people? They do this because journalism can change the world in good and honest ways."
Dallas Morning News
"Our Founding Fathers well understood that one effective way to squelch our liberty would be to silence those who — through handbills, printing presses and now digital media — work to hold the powerful accountable by opening to public scrutiny facts about how our society is governed.
As a result, they gave us the First Amendment with the expectation that a free press would arm citizens with facts and that the media would be held accountable by readers (and now a viewing public)."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Journalists often cover issues that evoke passionate debate, and not everyone wants to hear opinions other than their own. They may not appreciate, and may actually resent, the media providing a platform for opposing points of view.
We get that. But we aren’t the “enemy.” We’re your neighbors.
Journalists at the Star-Telegram report stories, write editorials, produce videos, and photograph compelling images with a goal of connecting you to the events and people in your community.
We have the privilege and responsibility to help unravel complicated details and clutter so you can make informed decisions."
"Somewhere in that messy process of competitive news gathering, a consensus arises — a truth derived from reporting, interviews and observation — not from a corporate statement or government mouthpiece. Much of journalism is hard, thankless work. For many, it is a calling to wake up every morning, seek the truth, tell the stories of regular folks.
Chronicle journalists have a track record of rooting out corruption, waste and injustice. Readers, trusting in our work, have demanded change. We strive to keep that trust. In the end, we’re fighting for you.
The next time the president starts in on the press, remember: Journalists who report facts that powerful people don’t want you to know are not the enemy; they’re the strongest ally democracy has."