At the time this article is written massive protests are taking place in Venezuela that so far have resulted in the death of at least two people, Russian bombers are nearing Alaska, tensions are growing in the North Korea, hundreds of Syrians are attempting to evacuate their country and the UK Parliament is calling for a snap election. The reason I know all of this is going on in the world is the same reason I can write this article—freedom of the press.
Those who report the news are finding it a bit more difficult to do so under Donald Trump’s presidency, however, Trump is not the inventor of bad relations with the press.
More quietly, President Obama’s press operation attempted to block Fox News reporters from interviews, attempted to block certain officials from speaking to journalists and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined.
This disdain for the press didn’t move into the White House with the Trump administration, it has been developing for some time. However, the frequency and volume at which Trump discredits the press is unique. Past presidents have at least pretended to support the first amendment when it pertains to a free media.
During his first day in office, Trump called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.” Since then, he has labeled legitimate reporting as “fake news” and has blocked multiples news organizations from attending his press briefings.
All of this comes at a time when polls find the public’s trust in the media is at an all-time low. To some, news organizations are too liberal, too conservative or don’t report on events that actually matter.
In reality, some of these opinions are justified. Many big media companies failed to see the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, and liberal companies such as CNN report news very differently than the more conservative Fox News, and both get things wrong occasionally.
Journalists make mistakes, that’s the reality of free press. But there is another reality to also consider.
Forty-eight journalists were killed in 2016. Within the past month, a crime reporter was shot and killed in Mexico City, a Somaliland journalist has been detained, multiple journalists are jailed for covering protests in Russia, a Nigerian blogger and his family are be-ing threatened after publishing news critical of their government and a Syrian journalist was killed by an airstrike March 13.
The information news organizations provide to many United States citizens who occasionally complain about said news organizations, is information many citizens of many other countries don’t have access too. The free press of this country is something journalists all around the world fight for, are jailed for, beat-en for, threatened for and die for.
It’s a common statement—a free press is nec-essary for a healthy democracy. A free press also needs democracy, there can’t be one without the other.