Editorial: There is nothing more patriotic or American than a free press

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 hits home. The country’s current administration under the leadership and following the example of President Donald Trump, and many leaders down the line from there, are picking up the fake news torch and running with it.

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

But 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. Real news is our obligation and what you should not only expect — it’s what you should demand.

This is not to say there aren’t media outlets who are biased, and who attempt to distort and manipulate. But those are the few. We who believe are the many.

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 propagate 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.

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.

For fellow journalists — on the front lines of Democracy — we stand with you, as should anyone who loves this country, what it stands for, and what it was built on.

To be clear: 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.