Editorial: Thomas Jefferson knew the importance of media - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Editorial: Thomas Jefferson knew the importance of media

(AP Photo/Morry Gash) (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Ever since President Donald Trump was inaugurated last month, it seems like one of his biggest messages has been about the messengers -- the media.

It's difficult to watch the tension between our national media and the president grow. This past weekend, the president even went so far as to tweet out a list of national outlets he called: "The enemy of the people."

No matter what side of the aisle you come from, that's a problem. Freedom of the press is one of the most important tenets we have in this country. It's countries that don't value freedom that journalists are quieted or imprisoned.

Presidents unhappy with the coverage they're getting is nothing new. Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "Nothing can now be believed that is seen in a newspaper."

Look, there's no question there is a lot of fake news out there these days. My social media feed is absolutely polluted with stories that with even a small portion of investigation can easily be debunked. But many media outlets -- including ours -- are doing their best to do what they should be doing, and that's asking tough questions and holding those in power accountable.

That's the job -- to question. And there's no question that at times, that's going to force journalists to be adversarial, but in the end, that's the whole point. If the idea of news is to just tell us what we want to hear and reaffirm our already-held beliefs, then what's the point of having it at all? Jefferson may have had his issues with the media, and we all can, but he also knew how vital it was to our special way of life: "The people are the only censors of their governors. Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

I don't ever want to have to make that choice. We need government and we need media. Journalists aren't supposed to be the government's friend, but that doesn't in any way make them the enemy.

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