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OUR OPINION: Despite what you may have heard, your local newspaper is not your enemy.

We've been complacent.

We thought everybody knew how important a free press was to our world and our communities and that all this talk about us being the enemy of the people would be dismissed for the silliness that it is.

But the attacks have continued.

President Trump isn't the first president to wage a battle with the American news media. And he won't be the last from either major political party.

But when any leader of the free world works to purposefully erode the public's trust in the media, the potential for damage is enormous, both here at home and in our nation's capital.

The United States 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. 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're your news, and we work hard every day to get the facts right.

On rainy January days, we're the people's eyes and ears at Sandy City Council meetings, or at Oregon Trail School Board meetings. We tell the stories of our community — like today's front page feature story about the efforts by local service organizations to attract and retain new members. And we bring you the news, like today's front page news story about the new interim principal at Firwood Elementary School.

We report the highs and lows of Sandy High School sports teams. And all too often we are called upon to report the sad news when a family loses a loved one.

We are always by your side. We shop the same stores, attend the same places of worship and hike the same trails. We struggle with daycare and worry about paying for retirement.

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 country and believe we're playing a vital role in our democracy. Self-governance demands that our citizens be well-informed and that's what we're here to do. We go beyond the government-issued press release or briefing and ask questions. We hold people in power accountable for their actions. Some think we're rude to question and challenge. We know it's our obligation.

Thomas Jefferson, who had his run-ins with journalists, nonetheless 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. And that's why newspapers across the nation are speaking out against these attacks in one voice today on their editorial pages.

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."

Note: This commentary is adapted from an editorial 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.

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