A Free Press: The Foundation of Democracy

Horizon Editorial Board

One of the foundations of our country is the freedom to express our opinions without persecution and our ability to access free and reliable information. If you threaten those principles, you threaten our democracy.

In Washington, D.C., a two-story structure lurks in the Newseum, and on it are the names of 2,323 reporters, photographers and broadcasters who lost their lives while reporting the news. They were not part of a fake media.

The dangers that come with the terms “fake news” and “enemy of the people” seem to be lost with many leaders and citizens. Prominent political figures are more frequently using the terms to describe credible and well-reported stories that in telling the truth might make them look bad. That does not qualify them as fake.

The fact is, we’re living in a time where information is flowing so quickly and abundently it’s hard to keep up. Information continues to pile up, and it can become difficult to differentiate the falsehoods from the facts. Individuals don’t always have time to fact-check every claim. That’s why we need the press.

As students, Horizon staff members are well aware that we are not perfect. We’ve made mistakes; published typos and even an unintention misquote or two. We’re not perfect, and we dont’ claim to be. But we’re ethical. We apologize for our mistakes and own up when we’re wrong. It’s what we’ve been taught. It’s what journalists do.

So it’s difficult to comprehend that 29 percent of Americans view the news media as the enemy of the people, according to an Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month. 

Without a free press, the public would have little access to the truth. Without access to the truth, there’s no way to hold our government accountable, which threatens our democracy. 

“Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” George Orwell wrote in his novel “1984.” “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

On August 16, The Boston Globe asked editorial boards from across the country – “liberal and conservative, large and small” – to join them to “address this fundamental threat in their own words.” This is our contribution.