Freedom of press now more important than ever

Political climate makes journalism key in finding truth

Lauren Mitchell

More stories from Lauren Mitchell


The Newseum, a Washington DC-based museum dedicated to the five freedoms of the First Amendment to the Constitution, displays a saying on its sixth floor about the role of a free press in a functioning society: “The free press is a cornerstone of democracy. People have a need to know. Journalists have a right to tell. Finding the facts can be difficult. Reporting the story can be dangerous. Freedom includes the right to be outrageous. Responsibility includes the duty to be fair. News is history in the making. Journalists provide the first drafts of history. A free press, at its best, reveals the truth.”

With the recent controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s relationship with media organizations, it is important to recognize the role journalism plays in a functioning democracy.
Trump is not the first president to have a contentious relationship with members of the media. However, he utilizes rhetoric that makes it seem as if journalists have a “hidden agenda,” or are not truly capable of reporting the truth of political issues or societal events.

Many modern journalists are assigned to cover the facts of some of the most public aspects of society: city, state and federal government. Most of the time, this means reporting unsavory details that members of the public would not otherwise know. However, this does not mean that members of the media have an agenda against the president or his staff— they are simply doing their job.

As new buzzwords like “fake news” and “alternative facts” make their way through social media, it is critical that Americans recognize that truth is at the core of all journalistic values. Reporting the truth, regardless of the reaction from the individual or organization covered, is the only responsibility of journalists and the publications they work for.
Journalism is more important than ever at this time in a deeply divided America. But it is equally important that the public recognizes the role journalists play in keeping government officials accountable—not with an agenda or ulterior motives, but a simple desire for the truth.