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Freedom of the press must be protected

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All across the country, over 400 newspapers, big and small, conservative and liberal, released editorials explaining the importance and vitality of the free press. This movement, sparked by The Boston Globe on Aug. 15, has since resurfaced the discussion of the importance of the freedom of press.

We, The Journal, believe that a free press is an essential part of a democracy and of this nation and that students and adults alike should care about maintaining a media that is free. We also do not believe, like our President and some politicians suggest, that the media is the enemy of the people.

The Globe’s intention was to inform the public about the negative side effects of losing the freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution. In order to show the impact that our politicians, like President Trump, have when they speak negatively to and about journalists, the Globe conducted an anonymous poll that laid out beliefs of people in the country and their attitudes towards the press.

The poll included three different statements that around 1,000 people responded to regarding whether they agreed or disagreed with these statements, the most concerning of which were the responses to the statement: “The news media is the enemy of the people.” Out of everyone in the poll, 29 percent agreed with the statement. When broken down into different political parties, 48 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Independents agreed.

Curious as to how that number would reflect at SHS, we conducted our own poll. According to this poll that had 72 responses, 14 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “The news media is the enemy of the people.” When broken down into different political parties, 19 percent of the Republicans and 5 percent of Democrats agreed.

It is reassuring to see that these numbers are lower than the larger poll conducted by The Globe. However, considering the reputation being forced onto journalists during this time, it is not surprising to see a distrust between the press and U.S. citizens within our own school.

A democracy is built around the idea that the power lies in the hands of the people. Journalists provide protection to people by revealing corruption that lies within the government and society, while also keeping the people informed. A country without journalism is ignorant and vulnerable to the proceedings of those leading them.

Maintaining a free press is important so that people’s voices can be heard. Instead of trying to shut down the media because they believe it is spewing “fake news,” people should be self aware of the fact that not everything they read is true.

Throughout history, as stated by The Boston Globe, “Replacing a free media with a state-run media has always been a first order of business for any corrupt regime taking over a country.” Today, we have a president and politicians who relentlessly bash the name of the free press. This is detrimental to the public outlook on the press, which is supposed to protect us as citizens.

Claiming the press is “the enemy of the people” will, in the long run, destroy the integrity of this democracy. Without the public supporting the press’ right to freely report, the press cannot protect our rights as American citizens.

High school journalism, much like professional journalism, is also something that we believe to be an essential part of the community. Perhaps we are biased, but high school journalism is the gateway into professional journalism. It teaches the future American journalists to be objective and ethical in their proceedings as professionals.

We, as citizens of the U.S., have been given the right to speak and write freely since the birth of our nation. The media, which, more often than not, gives us the truth and lends us a voice, is vital to maintaining these rights. So, if the freedom of the press is being challenged now, then what other fundamental human right will be next?

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