Valuing the freedom of the press

Tatum Lindquist, Editor in Chief

Horror stories of the Orwellian Ministry of Truth may seem unrealistic, but with communication technology on the rise, information—true and false—overwhelms our thoughts and inboxes. How many of us stop to appreciate the freedom of press? Does the public even recognize journalism’s importance anymore?
Whether the public recognizes it or not, the Issaquah community recently lost a forum for local opinions. After a 117-year run and more than 6,000 newspaper editions, the Issaquah Press exercised its first amendment rights one last time on February 23 and ceased operations on February 24. Even with months of exploring cost-effective strategies, it wasn’t enough to offset revenue losses that started over six years ago.
“Smart, accurate reporting isn’t free,” Horton wrote in an open letter to advertisers and readers. “It’s important to remember that much of the truthful news you read online…[began] with a trained and dedicated journalist.”
With a decline in the newspaper workforce by 39 percent over the past two decades, society continually fails to recognize the importance of local and national journalism. The freedom of the press was not only designed to promote truthful and relevant information to the public, but also voice the public’s opinions. An article free of governmental bias ensures a chance for the majority and the minority to speak their minds.
As the head of American society, the Trump Administration plays a prominent role in setting an example for the public. Unfortunately, it appears that Donald Trump exhibits a disdain for the press within his first few months in office: insulting journalists, threatening lawsuits against newspapers such as the New York Times, and suggesting opening up the U.S. libel laws.
While community groups similar to the Issaquah Press struggle to compete with national news corporations, even they must fight for their inherent rights against Trump. Attacks against the American freedom of press hinder its societal importance nationally and locally, but our society must restore the value of true journalism in order to maintain public awareness.
Journalists write to inform readers—not necessarily humor them—and the freedom of press protects these journalists. The first amendment should not be taken for granted, but embraced and upheld. While some make it seem like protecting the first amendment means protecting “alternative facts,” by standing for the freedom of press, you recognize and encourage journalistic integrity.