This nation’s founders felt so strongly that a free and unfettered press was necessary toward ensuring a government responsive to and reflective of the people that they protected journalists with the First Amendment to the Constitution.
For generations since, the U.S. media have shined a spotlight on the many successes of our nation as well as areas in need of improvement, helping to extend the beacon of that shining city on the hill as it illuminated for the world a free and open government.
But the U.S. media have come under increasingly reckless attacks, encouraged by our president’s deliberately deceptive disparagements that we are the “enemy of the people” and “fake news.” This behavior has sought to erode the credibility of the media as it accurately documents the actions, and missteps, of those elected to represent us — extending so far as this community newspaper in regard to stories that, while accurate, may be unpopular.
And rather than allow these facetious attacks to continue with impunity, the Denton Record-Chronicle‘s Editorial Board today is joining with over 300 other newspaper editorial boards in saying enough is enough. The role journalists play in serving as our national and local watchdogs is too critical to allow this responsibility to be commandeered.
Fact is, we are not the enemy of the people — we are the people. At the Denton Record-Chronicle, our journalists are your neighbors, your fellow commuters, your church congregants. We are impacted by the same policies and tax rates as you, and our stories often are generated out of the same struggles.
We also are not fake news. We take as much pride in our work as do you, and we are always striving for perfection — manifested in the fair and accurate reflection of our community. But just like you, we do make mistakes — and when we are made aware of errors, we promptly correct them and publish an explanation of the error in the same space on Page 2A.
Some detractors have tried to apply the “fake news” misnomer to paint our stories as inaccurate or untruthful, but this is simply not borne out by the facts. If true, 2A most days would be filled with corrections, when the opposite is usually the case.
As well, some have mislabeled items appearing on our Opinion page as “fake news” or “biased.” But none of the items published as Opinion pieces are produced by the newsroom — they are not news articles at all. They are all by their very definition biased, one-sided opinions — published not because we necessarily embrace their views, but because they facilitate a robust, informed dialogue.
We aim to present a balanced selection of Opinion items, with an equal number of right- and left-leaning essays, cartoons and guest view editorials — tracked daily in a database showing how the page leans on a daily and monthly basis. Only those items labeled as “Our View” represent the opinion of the Editorial Board — and as always, if you perceive the conversation to be leaning too much in any direction, we encourage you to contribute your voice through a letter to the editor or guest essay.
Ours is a labor of love, a calling to best inform and empower our readers. You are witness to this pursuit when you see us at your City Council meetings, huddled in the hallways of the courthouse or police department, moved to tears alongside you during a memorial service.
But you also know we are fulfilling our responsibility when we ask the tough, probing questions of the candidate you supported, when we seek the records documenting the operation of the agency in which you serve, when we continue to call those elected leaders who never pick up the phone.
We are not fake news — we are your news. And regardless of the unwarranted attacks, we will continue to persevere in pursuing the truth. Today, we add our voice to that of newspapers the nation over in taking a stand for a free and unfettered press you can trust — exactly as our founders envisioned.