Staff Ed: Respect the fourth estate

TPT Staff

A civic responsibility in a democracy is to stay informed, and the press tells the public what is taking place in the world.

The Trump administration has taken an unacceptable stand against the media, calling the press “the most dishonest human beings on Earth” and “the enemy of the people.”  

Last Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that an off-camera White House briefing would take place with the exclusion of several news outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Buzzfeed. Those allowed into the briefing included a number of traditionally conservative outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart. Time and the Associated Press, although approved, boycotted the meeting out of respect for the free press.

There is great danger in attempting to restrain or restrict the press. Restricting the media is, in essence, censoring the minds of the people and tailoring their knowledge to be as limited as desired, for they cannot obtain that which they do not know exists.

The media acts as a fourth branch of government, as it places checks and balances on each formal branch. It calls to attention breaches of power and inspires change.

Restricting the press is unconstitutional and wrong, and openly mocking the media belittles the hard work that journalists do each day.

Journalists risk their lives every day to shed light on controversial and dangerous topics, and they do so to better humanity. It is important to show respect for the free press and recognize its role in public service.  

A new tagline for The Washington Post, “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” refers to the need for journalism, for without it, the people would be left in ignorant darkness. If the media is silenced, the voices of the people are silenced, defeating the purpose of a democracy that is by, for and of the people.

America stands for freedom, which extends to press and speech. These liberties are what shaped our country, and as such must be upheld with other liberties that we so adamantly defend as fundamental rights of the people. Media critics should not label a news outlet as “fake news” for reporting facts that do not adhere to their personal opinions.

It is essential to respect the media, as it serves a critical role. Although some prefer different media outlets over others, the press must be appreciated. We cannot have freedom of the people without having freedom of the press.