I’m just a guy who writes a local newspaper column twice a week. I’ve been discussing local affairs and working with local newspapers on and off for over 40 years. I’ve also been a panelist or guest for political discussions on at least a dozen local news or cable outlets.
But I don’t consider myself to be part of “the media.” Why, you ask?
Because compared to what real journalists do, I am a part-time amateur. And my respect for them does not allow me to elevate myself to that status.
Which is why I bristle every time our president talks about “the dishonest media,” and refers to the members of the press as “dishonest people.” With his broad brush of insults used for his own self-serving purposes, he demeans an entire profession full of hard-working, honest people who perform a job that existed long before his current one.
Look, I don’t personally know the high-priced “talent” that works for newspapers like the New York Times, or the on-air personalities that star on CNN, Fox News, or any other major network news divisions. And frankly, they are big and powerful enough to defend themselves.
But for every one of them, there are hundreds of other individuals who make what they do possible. There are editors, producers, writers, copy people, schedulers, beat reporters, correspondents, camera operators, photographers and newspaper delivery people — all who conduct themselves with more honor than the president has displayed recently.
I won’t spend time highlighting how Donald Trump became the president largely because the media he hates went out of its way to cover him. That has been well documented. He shrewdly used them to get elected.
He continues to use them now, but differently. In a manner as frightening as it is familiar, President Trump tries to elevate himself by stepping on the backs of good people who work hard and provide a service to the American public.
Don’t feel sorry for the news anchors or the highly visible reporters unfortunate enough to be covering his sideshow on a daily basis. But please, be fully aware what Trump is doing to the concept of a “free press” and to the underpaid, under-appreciated working class people who keep you informed about more than what your political leaders — from all parties — want you to know.
Most reporters don’t make large salaries, whether they work in print or other media. I’m talking local reporters here, too, like the ones who work for this newspaper or the other local daily and weekly papers throughout this state.
The president of the Unites States is telling you the news is fake and dishonest, and so are the people who bring it to you.
It’s not a new approach. I’ve listened to local politicians slam newspapers and reporters around here for many decades. “They just want to sell papers.” “They only write what is sensational.” “They never get things right.” “They have their own agenda.” “They are lazy, incompetent, or just plain dishonest.”
And every once in a while, they are correct. Not every newsperson gets it right every time. Sometimes papers can have an agenda. Media are hardly infallible.
But I have been privileged to know many decent, honest, talented journalists. They do this in part because they love it. They know they will never get rich, and probably never make “the big time,” but still treat their job with the respect and dignity required for a press to truly be free.
They work long and difficult hours. They deal with people who often don’t want them there, and deliberately make their jobs harder. And in the case of reporters, even when they feel outrage and disgust, they must force themselves to objectively report what actually happened — as well as how it happened.
Those leaders who seek to get around the press usually do so because their actions can’t stand up to real scrutiny. So they demean those who bring you the news, in order to make sure you only know what they want you to know.
If I was good enough to be part of “the media,” I’d consider it an honor.
I thank them all for allowing us the chance to read and hear them, and make our own judgments.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at aninsidelook@aol.com and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.