Free press imperative

The frequent use of the term “fake news” has become reckless and damaging. It is treated as a catch-all phrase to discredit anything – including factual reporting – with which someone may not agree. Among those who continue to utilize and promote this “fake news” ideology is President Donald Trump.

For nearly 200 years, since Oct. 20, 1832, The Telegraph has been a trusted source of information in southern New Hampshire.

Throughout the newspaper’s history, the pages of The Telegraph have chronicled the presidency of New Hampshire native Franklin Pierce, the Civil War, the invention of the telephone, World War I and World War II, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a plethora of presidential candidates campaigning in the New Hampshire primary, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, along with numerous other historical events.

We have, perhaps, even more importantly, been there to capture local history that would otherwise have been lost. This includes coverage of community meetings and events in Nashua, Amherst, Brookline, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, Merrimack, Milford and other areas throughout the region.

It is for these reasons we find it disheartening when we hear the term “fake news” used in describing members of our profession. Even when these words are not specifically directed toward anyone representing The Telegraph, such language can create an environment in which all media is lumped together as “fake news.”

We at The Telegraph are not immune to the occasional mistake. We also quickly acknowledge and address with a correction any such error. Our only goal is to be as fair, accurate and complete as possible in the effort to bring you unique coverage of Greater Nashua.

The Telegraph, your trusted, local news source, is the embodiment of a free press. As such, we are the antithesis of “fake news” and just as vital to national security as any weapon, perhaps even more so because words – written and spoken – are the foundation for building treaties, alliances and peace. Our nation’s Founding Fathers had the foresight to realize the power of the press and to enshrine such a fortification of liberty, protecting it like a national treasure within the First Amendment of our Constitution.

The free press has been long been characterized as the fourth estate of government – providing a watchful eye that demands fairness, openness and accuracy from our executive, legislative and judicial branches that form our country’s framework of governance. This always has been and remains our commitment at The Telegraph. It is not “fake news” to take a tough stance on an issue through our editorial page or to hold local officials accountable by asking pressing questions as part of investigative news coverage.

Freedom of press was and should remain nonpartisan. Regardless of where anyone stands on political issues, we want to collectively join in raising our figurative pens to remind United States citizens and our local readers why a free press was worth fighting for during our country’s founding. While many changes in the way we gather and produce the news have occurred, the core tenet of why we must be able to do so without fear of retribution remains just as relevant today as when the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.

The First Amendment provides constitutional protection for certain individual liberties, including freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the right to assemble and petition the government.

We will not cower to anyone who fails to see the value of these rights or stand idly by while the exercise of these rights is labeled “fake news.” Today, we sound an alarm against such alienation tactics by anyone who goes against these inalienable rights. Therefore, we urge Trump and others who use the term to stop broadly and wrongfully categorizing media as “fake news.” This does not serve the best interests of the American people.