A free press is at the heart of our democracy. No one goes into journalism expecting to win popularity contests or be cuddled by those whom we cover. Nonetheless, it has been tough to witness the treatment of fellow journalists over the past four years, especially the White House Press Corps as they endured lies being told about their work, being called names and even tossed out for doing their job – asking hard questions.
Through it all, they remained true to the guiding principles of the field – truth and accuracy. They did not back down. They kept asking their questions and reporting the facts. What people might not realize is how powerfully most reporters believe in the history of our nation, the Constitution and , oh yes , that beautiful First Amendment. Every day you do your job you are exercising the rights protected in that amendment.
Some days it is more prevalent than others and often risk is involved. I recall being a young reporter for the Manchester Herald in Connecticut when there was turmoil within the fire department in the town I covered. Those in charge were trying to cover up what was going on. I still remember what it felt like on a cold winter’s night to make a long climb up a stairway to where the department was attempting to hold an illegal closed meeting. I was the only reporter present that night; I opened the door, walked in and stood my ground -feeling a tremendous responsibility to get the truth out to the public. That is just one example of what I have encountered through my career, and one example of what journalists face even on the local level.
Despite the beating the field of journalism took over the last four years, thanks to the fortitude of courageous reporters, the effort to undermine the free press failed. I am so proud to say we in the United States are journalism strong.