Several Virginia Press Association member newspapers from across the state took part in the Boston Globe’s day of action Thursday where the Globe requested that U.S. newspapers print editorials in defense of the free press and to counter President Trump’s rhetoric that the media are the “enemy of the people.”
In Virginia, nine newspapers wrote editorials in support of a free press. Almost all of the editorials stated that the decision to publish was an apolitical one—as the founding fathers of the country understood the necessity of a free and vibrant press for a healthful democracy.
The papers that participated were: The Progress-Index, The Northern Virginia Daily, Rappahannock News, Inside NoVA, the Henrico Citizen, the Central Virginian, the Bedford Bulletin, the Breeze, the Winchester Star and the Bristol Herald Courier. The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press and the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote editorials but published them throughout the week, not Thursday.
Nationally, more than 400 newspapers took part in the day.
Below are some excerpts from our members’ editorials:
“The role of the press has been and will continue to be a defender of the First Amendment and watchdog over government and other areas of vital interest to the well being of our nation. The leader of our country should recognize the importance of a free press and not foment hate against it.”
“President Trump and others in positions of power who suggest in blanket terms that the news media is “fake” or is the enemy of the people do an injustice to the very people they are pretending to protect. Information is not the enemy of the people. Facts are not fake news. Perspective is not the enemy of the people. Compassion is not fake. Clarity is not the enemy of the people. Certain standards transcend politics and personal views – or ought to. These are among them.”
“From the White House on down, it is time to back off the vitriol. The press and its practitioners can — and at times should — be criticized. But a free press should be bolstered, not buffeted by incendiary attacks.”
“Mr. President, you are profiling us as bad people just because we belong to a certain group. You are ostracizing us just because we are doing what we are paid to do and want to do. That is nothing more than pure discrimination. And that is NOT how the United States, nor its top leader, should be.”
“This is America. The free press is fundamental in democracy and anyone who leads this country should support what it stands for.”
“As journalists unite to remind the public of the need for the Fourth Estate, journalists also need to commit themselves to fair, accurate and unbiased reporting. We support both of those efforts. The public has a right to know and journalists have a right to cover and uncover what is going on in government. That doesn’t make journalism an “enemy,” but rather a necessity.”