EDITORIAL: Not the enemy of the people

EDITORIAL: Not the enemy of the people

The Westerly Sun

Editor’s note: The Sun joins many other newspapers and the Student Press Law Center in the following statement regarding the shooting Thursday at a newspaper office in Annapolis, Md.:

We condemn, in the strongest terms, the deadly targeting of journalists at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and to all those affected by Thursday's events.

In fact, we are all affected by these events. The recent anti-media rhetoric creates an enabling environment for violence against journalists and that, in turn, creates a new challenge to the key tenets of objectivity, independence and fairness which underpin the profession.

As this country debates the place of civility, truth and accountability in our public life, journalists are on the front line, working, every day, to tell the stories of our communities and to shore up our democracy by helping to create an informed and discerning citizenry. And yet, as they do their work with fewer and fewer resources, they are increasingly villainized. This act may have been perpetrated by a lone gunman, but the social environment which has demonized journalists gave license to his actions.

Friday night, hours after their colleagues were killed and injured, reporters from the Capital Gazette were at a news conference discussing the events. They were not there as speakers — they were back at work, covering the story of which their fallen colleagues and their paper were the subject.

This is what journalists do. Journalists are not the enemy of the people. They should be raised up and protected. Their important role in defending and affirming the First Amendment, informing an engaged public, and protecting democracy should be honored instead of ridiculed. And at no point should they be the subject of calls to violence or targeting.

We commit to living up to the legacy of the committed journalists who were gunned down Thursday, because a free, independent and safe media is essential to maintaining democracy.


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