Our Opinion: We all must stand against 'fake attacks' on free press
Editor's note: This editorial is adapted from one crafted by the New York Press Association, which is working with the Boston Globe and media organizations around the country, including the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, to celebrate freedom of the press this week.
We've been complacent.
We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and that all this talk about the media being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is.
But the reckless attacks have continued, instigated and encouraged by our president. And when the leader of the free world works to erode the public's trust in the media, the potential for damage is enormous, both here and abroad.
We once set an example of free and open government for the world to follow. Now those who seek to suppress the free flow of information are doing so with impunity. And so the time has come for us to stand up to the bullying. The role journalism plays in our free society is too crucial to allow this degradation to continue.
We aren't the enemy of the people. We are the people. We aren't fake news. We are your news, and we work night and day to get the facts right.
Week in and week out, The Review is the people's eyes and ears at City Council and School Board meetings. Anthony Macuk, Sam Stites, Claire Holley, Barb Randall, Miles Vance and Vern Uyetake strive to tell the stories that make Lake Oswego unique, chronicling everything from passionate disagreements over policy to communitywide efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.
Most importantly, we are always by your side. We shop the same stores, worship in the same places and hike the same trails. We live, work and play here, and we'll be here tomorrow. And that informs not only the kinds of stories we write, but also the way we write them.
Sometimes we play the role of cheerleader, and we're OK with that. Sometimes we have to tell uncomfortable stories, and we think we do a pretty good job of that, too — but always in a way that we hope fosters dialogue and moves the community forward.
And always with a commitment to be fair, accurate and honest.
In our work as journalists, our first loyalty is to you. Our work is guided by a set of principles that demand objectivity, independence, open-mindedness and the pursuit of the truth. We make mistakes, we know. There's nothing we hate more than errors. But we acknowledge them, correct them and learn from them.
Our work is a labor of love because we love our community and believe that we and other journalists across the country are playing a vital role in our democracy. Self-governance demands that our citizens need to be well-informed, and that's what we're here to do.
We go beyond the government-issued press release or briefing and ask tough questions. We hold people in power accountable for their actions. Some think we're rude to question and challenge. But we know it's our obligation.
So did Thomas Jefferson, who had his run-ins with journalists and yet understood the importance of a free press.
"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government," he wrote, "I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
People have been criticizing the press for generations. We are not perfect. But we're striving every day to be a better version of ourselves than we were the day before. That's why we welcome criticism.
But unwarranted attacks that undermine your trust in us cannot stand.
The problem has become so serious that The Review is joining newspapers across the nation in speaking out against these attacks in one voice today on our editorial pages. We hope you'll join us in pushing back against what has become an increasingly dangerous trend.
Because 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."
— Judy Patrick
and Gary M. Stein for The Review