It’s been no secret that “the media” in general have been under heavy partisan criticism. Journalists have been called “enemy of the people,” “fake,” “disgusting” — not words that foster fair criticism and honest dialogue about the media, but words that demonize and work to sow fear and suspicion.
The Boston Globe has called for news organizations across the country to join its denunciation of these accusations and attacks on the media. Because media organizations in the United States are independent, not all of them agree that this is a good idea. Some, including media critic Jack Shafer of Politico, instead feel this campaign could feed into a narrative that there is a coordinated effort to skew news in a partisan way.
But at The Seattle Globalist, we wanted to take a moment to state our position on the importance of protecting the free press. There’s too much at stake. As our colleagues at the Institute for Nonprofit News note, the anti-media rhetoric appears to be rising along with verbal and physical attacks on journalists, attempts to shield government information from release to the public, and arrests and harassment of reporters covering stories of public interest.
Our organization values a free press because we are dedicated to covering the issues of biggest concern and impact to our communities. This is important because as immigrants, people of color and those belonging to other underrepresented communities, we too often find ourselves becoming a scapegoat or target due to unfounded fear, hatred and xenophobia.
Telling our stories and centering our narratives and perspectives shines a light on our concerns, our joys — and most of all our humanity. Bringing our communities closer together is one purpose of community-based journalism.
A free press — including the ability to cast a critical eye on our government and our institutions — is an important part of a healthy democracy.
By definition, the free press is not beholden to any government or any other institution. We in the media represent — and are responsible to — you, the public, in holding our governments and institutions accountable, and in telling our stories fairly and accurately.
Furthermore, because of that very responsibility and trust that the public has in us, we journalists, now more than ever, also need to make a commitment to diversity, and making sure that the media can be a true mirror of the communities we represent.
This is also why The Seattle Globalist has a mission to create media that elevates voices that often go unheard, because these voices are important to a healthy democracy and to our communities. Telling these stories and airing these voices plays an important part in building a community.
We hope you join us in standing up to protect the vital role of the free press.