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AS I SEE IT

Posted 8/15/18 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While Americans can either like or dislike President Trump’s politics and policies, even his strongest supporters will agree that he has a tendency to go off script and say things that makes the world cringe. And if someone says or does something that he opposes, instead of entering into a dialogue to resolve those differences, he prefers to attack them publicly.
Unfortunately, one of Trump’s favorite targets since his election has been the news media, and in particular newspapers and their journalists. In what has been a much too common occurrence, Trump is alleging that newspapers are filled with fake news and are being run by enemies of the people.
The vast majority of Americans who rely on their local newspaper to provide them with information on what is happening in their community probably aren’t listening to Trump when he goes on these rampages. And the newspaper industry, as a whole, is grateful for its readers who know that they can trust what they read and the people who are reporting the news.
But the attitude by Trump about the news media is now being shared by other elected officials across the country and even in North Dakota. And that trend of blaming newspapers as being filled with fake news and their reporters as being enemies of the people is truly alarming.
For decades, and even centuries, newspapers such as the McKenzie County Farmer have been the bastion of bringing news to its readers. Those stories can be of a sports team winning or losing a game, a business opening, celebrating people’s lives and stories, and reporting on decisions made by our local officials.
When a story runs on a sports team losing a game, is that fake news? When a newspaper writes about the results of an election is that fake news? Is it fake news when a newspaper helps champion local economic development efforts? Or is reporting about an individual that committed a crime fake news.
Of course it isn’t. News reporters and newspapers don’t create the news, they only report it. And they do so in an unbiased and fair manner.
And maybe that is the problem that Trump and others who want to control the news have.
The framers of the Constitution understood the importance of having a free press. They knew that if the government controlled the news, they would only know what those leaders wanted them to know.
Newspapers, be they a daily or a weekly, serve a valuable role across this country. They bring their readers the real story.