The Editors: The free press is not the enemy
Today America joins more than 300 U.S. publications in an initiative begun by The Boston Globe, calling for news organizations to jointly issue statements in support of the free press, which has been repeatedly insulted by President Donald J. Trump.
The necessity of a free press is a topic that America has written on many times, not only in recent years but throughout its 109 years of publication. Indeed, in its own history America has endured censorship both here at home and abroad: in the former case because it was seen by some as an “enemy of the people” during World War I, and in the latter case because of its support of the cause of Irish independence from Great Britain. For those who would imagine such times are behind us, history and the present moment alike offer a sobering reminder that we must always remain vigilant in the protection of our First Amendment right.
“In a democracy, there can never be too much concern for the preservation of those fundamental liberties guaranteed in the First Amendment,” the editors wrote in 1944, “since they are the life-blood of our political freedom. Without them, without freedom of speech and freedom of the press, democracy would shrivel among us and die.”
The necessity of a free press is a topic that America has written on many times, not only in recent years but throughout its 109 years of publication.
More recently, America’s current editor-in-chief, Matt Malone, S.J., decried how the Trump administration’s affinity for “alternative facts” hurts journalism and puts our constitution in crisis: “This world of ‘alternative facts’ seriously undermines the ability of the press to do its constitutional job. When that happens, we’re one step closer to a government without newspapers.”
It is worth remembering that the suppression of investigative journalism and independent organs of opinion is a feature of every dystopia yet imagined—as well as a harsh reality of every totalitarian regime in human history. Even in our own churches and institutions, we have seen how important these outlets are for revealing the truth, for naming the lie.
The free press is not the enemy: It is often the bright and penetrating light that the malefactor fears will reveal what is done in the dark.
For more of our coverage of the importance of a free press and threats that undermine it, see our list below: