Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of the American system, embodied in the First Amendment along with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right of peaceable assembly.
Currently, the press is under attack from some quarters. One putative presidential nominee characterizes the press as “dishonest,” “sleazy,” “disgusting” and worse. This is unfair and dangerous.
Journalists are easy targets. Their work is glaringly public. Errors are criticized, unpleasant truths protested, stylistic objections tendered. Like all occupations, some practitioners are more skilled than others. Serious journalism coexists with fringe media, which descends into gossip and sensationalism.
None of this should diminish respect for those who practice journalism with dedication, skill and courage. Journalists as a class have become scapegoats for some. This overbroad criticism is self-serving; violates the First Amendment, at least in spirit; and poisons the public discourse when practiced as a political strategy.
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I, for one, am frequently impressed by the journalistic excellence I encounter daily. Perhaps it is time to stop the reflexive criticism of journalism and journalists, and recognize the talent and hard work of the first-rate reporters who not only provide a necessary product, but are an essential part of “The American Way.”
Robert McDonald, Richland