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Editor’s Words: Power of the Pen

Trump’s rant about ‘fake news’ will not silence our voices

Rachel Lightner, Editor

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As journalists, we hold ourselves to high standards. Our responsibility is to be truthful with the facts, without compromise. Trustworthiness is the currency of good journalism, put into practice in how we document and edit facts with strict controls for accuracy. We pledge honesty, focusing on the needs of our readers with the upmost respect. We strive for their trust, and we hope they believe in the power of journalism as much as we do.

We aspire that our words can move people, motivate them, inspire them, and keep them informed. We are journalists because we have a passion to tell stories that need to be told, and we feel a duty to do so, with the hope that there are ears to listen.

Over the last week, President Donald Trump has been attacking the media, saying, “The news media is the enemy of the American people.” He has targeted major news companies, labeling them as “fake news” and the “disgusting and corporate media,” including The New York Times, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, and CNN. Trump has used his medium of choice, Twitter, to voice his opinions. (Because Twitter is full of truthful media right?)

For Trump to label these news organizations as “fake news” is quite comical. And it is far from factual. But to Trump facts don’t matter. They are indistinguishable from opinion. If you want to talk facts, here are a few that may interest Mr. Trump: The press also goes by the name The Fourth Estate, a term that positions the press as a fourth branch of government, and one that is important to a functioning democracy; the press has a huge influence in the way the government works, and the opinions we carry do matter; the Fourth Estate, and one of its patriarchs Edward R. Murrow, brought down Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy by casting light on the systematic witch hunting and character assassination techniques he employed. There isn’t a doubt in my mind we have the power to repeat history with Mr. Trump.

Another fact is that journalists have risked and lost their lives for the sake of journalism. Daniel Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was executed by al Qaeda militants shortly after 9/11 while reporting on terrorism in Pakistan. Pearl’s determination to report the facts to the nation ultimately cost him his life. His commitment to journalism should be an example to all of us how important this industry really is and how its voices are dedicated to the need for factual writing and reporting. Pearl’s case, along with many others, show that as journalists, we will not go down without a fight, and our voices cannot be silenced. As long as we continue our important work, Mr. Trump will continue to hear our voices loud and clear. So keep fighting, don’t let your voices be silenced, and keep believing in the power of the pen.

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Editor’s Words: Power of the Pen