Editorial: Who’s the real enemy here?
photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration
There is nothing fake about the work being done by reporters at the Lawrence Journal-World.
To the contrary, Sara Shepherd’s stories about a Missouri woman who allegedly drove a stolen car into the Kansas River, drowning her 5-year-old daughter, are tragically real.
Peter Hancock’s reporting on the Republican primary for Kansas governor, decided Tuesday night when Gov. Jeff Colyer finally conceded to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was spot on, despite ever-changing vote totals.
Elvyn Jones’ articles on how much it could cost the Lawrence school district to replace the 68 district iPads and 77 district Macbook laptops lost last year by middle school and high school students were predictably accurate.
Yes, the City of Lawrence and its police union really have reached agreement on a new labor contract and, yes, the city plans to install a new $11 million automated water meter and billing system, as Rochelle Valverde reported this week.
Journal-World reporters take their jobs seriously. They strive for accuracy and to tell both sides of every story. When they make a mistake, they correct it.
They are parents, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. They share the Midwesterners’ work ethic, putting in long and often unpredictable hours. They believe in the mission of journalism and in truth-telling. They are as vital to the fabric of the Lawrence community as teachers, police officers, doctors, nurses, pastors, small-business owners and other professionals.
Journal-World reporters are not “disgusting.” They are not “horrible, horrendous people.” They are not “very dangerous and sick.” They are not the “enemy of the American people.”
So when President Donald Trump uses his bully pulpit to spout such hyperbole in generic criticism of the media, he demeans the work of all journalists, including the professional reporters and editors at the Journal-World.
Trump, like the autocrats for whom he sometimes expresses admiration, works to blur the lines between fact and fiction and to sow seeds of media mistrust wherever he can.
“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump told followers during a recent stop in Kansas City. “Just stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.”
It’s a charlatan’s pitch. History is not on the president’s side.
When Trump says “these people, the fake news” he’s including hundreds of American newspapers like the Journal-World that have built century-old businesses based entirely on the credibility of the news they deliver. This is exactly as the nation’s founders intended; they felt so strongly that newspapers were essential to American democracy that they guaranteed freedom of the press in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Enemy of the American people? Now that’s fake news.