Editorial: Fake news

Journalists — true journalists, not celebrity opinion spouters — do not want to be in the headlines. Yet our President puts editors and reporters there on an almost daily basis with disparaging remarks about bias and “fake news.” This week, more than 100 papers large and small will respond to his comments in their editorial pages.

Never has the truth in journalism been more important to maintain and defend. Even as small-town journalists, undermining our role and our voice by allegations of fake news is a cowardly act. Following the example of Donald Trump, and many leaders from Washington, D.C., officials down the line are picking up the fake news torch and running with it.

And in Connecticut, disparaging the media is certainly not limited to one party. Accusations of bias and attempts to silence critical reporting have happened to this newspaper chain from both sides of the aisle.

Now, not only is our integrity questioned, journalists are called “the enemy of the people.” The rhetoric incites and invites attacks both virtual and physical. The philosophy at times seems to be our voices will be bullied into silence by any means and at any cost. More disturbing is these efforts are not only encouraged — silencing, insulting and belittling reporters is framed as “patriotic duty” toward the United States.

Real news is challenging. Real news can be agonizing for both the reader and reporter. Real news can make you angry, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Real news is our obligation and what you should not only expect — it’s what you should demand.

There are some media outlets that are biased — that attempt to distort and manipulate — but reputable news outlets are interested in only delivering the facts.

One thing is accurate in these attacks against the media — we are the enemy in some cases.

We are the enemy of governmental secrecy, of public self-servants, of lies —  we are the enemy of absolute power seekers, and the enemy of efforts to propagandize an uninformed electorate so as to manipulate it. From the tiniest newspaper with no budget to an international journalistic powerhouse — we are the enemies of those who would seek to hide the truth from you. Eighty-six journalists around the world died last year doing that work. Almost 200 languish in prisons today because of their efforts.

Connecticut is in the process of electing new leaders after Tuesday’s primary. Let the example of embracing a free press come from the top, regardless of national rhetoric and insults.

There is nothing more American and more patriotic than holding our leaders accountable via a free press. Those who say otherwise are not emboldened by the stars and stripes. They are hiding in our flag’s shadow, obscuring the truth, afraid of its light.