Freedom of the press
Christina Greer Ph.D. | 10/20/2016, 9:27 a.m.
I recently taught my Introduction to Politics students a unit in which we discussed the U.S. Constitution and the subsequent amendments that have been added to our incredible governing document. I am still amazed that a document that was written by a small number of slave-holding men has the capacity to grow, breathe and expand over time to include so many more citizens of such diverse backgrounds—likely in ways the framers could never imagine.
Many people often wonder why or how I can respect a document written by the framers, but when I think of the intricacies of the theory that was not yet put into practice, I am in awe. And as I think of all of the freedoms most of us enjoy as American citizens, the freedom of the press becomes more and more important to me each passing year.
I, like many others, was completely appalled when DJT (I refuse to give him more free press coverage.) refused to allow major newspapers to be a part of his press detail solely because he did not like the stories they published about him. That behavior (and much of his behavior past and present) sets a dangerous precedent for journalism and reporters writ large. How can we remain an informed citizenry if journalists fear repercussions that could have temporary or permanent effects on their careers (or lives)? Many journalists have been targeted by alt-right supporters of DJT, and their families have even come under attack. It is imperative we protect journalists and journalistic standards, even as print media struggles in the internet age.
As many newspapers across the country must tighten the belt and rely more heavily on stories produced by AP and Reuters journalists, the diversity of our news stories continues to dwindle. Don’t get me wrong, AP and Reuters journalists are some of the best in the business. However, one person writing a single story and disseminating it to hundreds of newspapers across the country is not the same as having dozens of journalists reporting on the same story to provide nuance and diverse perspectives. Part of the growing problem is the level of disaffection felt by so many Americans who do not even bother to read the news and do not yearn for perspectives beyond their own.
We must continue to fight for newspapers, large and small, across the country. We must also remain vigilant regarding the pressures placed on journalists who are fighting to report the stories we need to read. So as you continue to support this newspaper and others, be sure to read the bylines to see who is doing the heavy lifting and hard research to bring you your news. And if you get a moment, read the U.S. Constitution, it may surprise you.
Christina Greer, Ph. D., is an associate professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.” You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.