The senseless violence perpetrated on Thursday in Annapolis, Maryland, highlights the adversarial point of view some have taken in relation to the press. The attacker had a personal vendetta and believed the newspaper existed to damage his life.
Make no mistake: Journalism exists as a public service.
Whether it is the Obama administration spying on the Associated Press and infringing on the First Amendment rights of Fox News’ James Rosen or the Trump administration referring to journalists as “enemies of the American people,” these attacks on the press are wrong.
If you care for the U.S. Constitution, if you care for democracy, if you care for an informed public, stand with journalists. We don’t expect undying allegiance or an uncritical acceptance of all we publish, but we ask for your support and understanding of the purpose we serve.
Journalists have exposed corruption from school boards to the Oval Office. Journalists have brought you details of events from the other side of town to the other side of the Earth. Journalists have told stories of triumph in the highest offices to the humblest of settings.
Journalists have also coached your children’s soccer teams. Journalists have helped you with your homework. Journalists have held the door for you at your place of worship. Journalists are your neighbors. Journalists are your classmates. Journalists are your friends.
Journalists are people — people who serve an important purpose in a democracy.
Journalists work extensive hours for little pay — and often less recognition. Journalists who complain will often leave for a corporate job, where importance is based on pay, rather than essential information provided to the public.
Those who stay in journalism do so because they believe deeply in their profession and their communities. The person getting paid $30,000 a year to cover high school athletics and deliver newspaper clippings for your wall or stories to send to distant relatives could work somewhere else and make more money. But no one becomes a journalist for the pay.
People become journalists because they believe members of their community deserve the information they’re working to provide. Journalists need the communities they serve, and the communities they serve need them.