EDITORIAL | Journalism must survive

As much as we’d like to, we cannot ignore the very serious attacks this country is facing on a daily basis from this new administration.

Donald Trump’s first 13 days in office has been one of building walls, separating families, religious persecution, complete disregard for the environment and bullying the media for reporting accurately what he and his administration are doing and still gearing up to do, to “Make America Great Again.”

In a time when the leader of the free world can block freedom of the press and condemn reports he doesn’t like as “fake news,” this country is in desperate need of thick-skinned and tenacious journalists, willing to stand up for the pursuit of facts with as much steel as those who have the courage to stand up to an authoritarian regime have shown in just less than two weeks.

It wasn’t easy to be a journalist before the Trump administration, and it sure as hell hasn’t been a cakewalk so far through the forest of denial that has sprouted up across this fair country.

The dire straits the Seattle Times now faces is evidence of that. We may not agree with its editorial board all the time, but the Seattle Times has a long tradition of good reporting by top-notch journalists.

 It really comes down to standards, and the blurred line between journalism and media. Journalism should put information above all else, while media is more entertaining. Some outlets provide people with just the facts, while more popular media will fashion audiences with a scripted opinion that matches their sensibilities.

While an opinion page is a place for a media outlet to express its editorial take on an issue, such biases should never be reflected in the content labeled as news. Admittedly, this policy has never been more strained than since we became encumbered by executive orders that seem to challenge the very constitutional strength on which our entire profession was built.

There’s a narrative that comes with every action; so many narratives. Regardless of political affiliation — red or blue — it’s hard to report about families being divided because people who voted for the president (not the majority, mind you) are afraid of the stereotype that surrounds their religion — a freedom to which they have as much a right as the press has to report without government interference.

And just like immigrants and refugees, journalists only receive the bad interference. No government officials are swooping in to save failed journalism outlets because they believe in the importance of a well-informed citizenry. Trump despises the press publicly, but that doesn’t mean many more in government don’t despise journalists in private.

Real journalists will be fair and objective, letting people make up their own opinions about the information provided to them. They will not bow to pressure. They will not suppress facts that disagree with their private thoughts. And they will not let a noble profession be bastardized by anyone — no matter how high their towers or golden their showers.