WASHINGTON — About 350 newspapers all have one thing in common on Thursday: A statement supporting the free press and decrying President Trump’s attacks against the media.
From The Martha’s Vineyard Times to the Dallas Morning News… from the Yankton County Observer in South Dakota to the Bangor Daily News in Maine… the papers are all running editorials as part of an effort first proposed by the Boston Globe earlier this month.
“This whole project is not anti-Trump. It’s really pro-press,” The Globe’s editorial says.
Each paper wrote its own editorial. The campaign is significant because it moves the conversation about Trump’s attacks out of Washington and New York and into communities across the country.
Some of the participants are emphasizing the local nature of most news coverage, and saying Trump’s extreme rhetoric — labeling journalists “enemies of the people,” for instance — hurts everyone, not just the political reporters who enrage him the most.
In Belen, New Mexico, the Valencia County News-Bulletin wrote that “We are not the enemy; We are the people.”
In Clinton, Arkansas, the Van Buren County Democrat said Trump’s “enemy” talk is disappointing: “Words, after all, matter — a point we prove every week. And those words, from that pulpit, are unacceptable and utterly, utterly, wrong.”
In Athens, Ohio, the Athens News pointed out that local officials inspired by Trump are increasingly going “on the attack.”
And the editorial in Benson, Minnesota’s Swift County Monitor News was titled “Attacks On Journalists Will Lead To Violence.”
A handful of radio and TV stations are also airing editorials on Thursday. But the effort mostly involves newspapers with editorial pages.
At most papers, especially big dailies, the editorial page is a separate enterprise from the newsroom. Editorials typically reflect the opinion of the publisher, not necessarily the newsroom.
But the campaign has garnered criticism from many Trump supporters, and from some media critics, because of the appearance of a coordinated attack.
“It plays into Trump’s narrative that the media are aligned against him,” San Francisco Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz wrote.
Diaz predicted that Trump will call it “collusion” and “will attempt to cite this day of editorials to discredit critical and factual news stories in the future, even though no one involved in those pieces had anything to do with this campaign.”
On Fox News, some of Trump’s boosters have already tried to do this.
“We’re just defending the First Amendment and that shouldn’t be a controversial proposition,” Pritchard said in response to the criticism about the campaign. “This is about the media’s role as a watchdog.”
Journalists tend to be a snarky bunch, and some dismissed the chance of the editorials having much if any impact.
John Podhoretz of Commentary magazine tweeted on Thursday morning, “Can you imagine anything more boring than reading 350 coordinated editorials? Signed, a former editorial page editor.”
Perhaps. Or perhaps there is strength in numbers.
Some of the local editorials tried to differentiate between opinion hosts on TV and just-the-facts reporters in the field.
The Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minnesota said its editorial doubled as a “call to stop lumping together as ‘the media’ both legitimate news-gatherers and those whose practice of propaganda is meant to mislead and misinform for self-serving purposes.”
As a practical matter, Thursday’s editorials may be mostly preaching to the choir, reinforcing the positive feelings of already-loyal readers.
New polling by Quinnipiac shows that most Americans, 65%, regard the news media as an important part of democracy, not an “enemy.” But 26% of respondents, including 51% of Republicans, sided with Trump’s “enemy” rhetoric.
Press freedom groups have been sounding alarms about the threats posed by this dehumanizing language.
But some of Trump’s supporters have cheered him on, arguing that the press is abusively biased against his presidency.
The New York Times has a list of the participating papers and excerpts from some of the editorials.
Criticizing the news media “is entirely right,” The Times said in its own editorial. But “insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.”
In San Diego, the Union-Tribune paired its editorial with a full-page spread titled “How We Restore Faith in Journalism.”
“Distrust is not easy to dismantle,” the editorial said. “But journalists at The San Diego Union-Tribune and nationwide will keep advocating for a free and fair press. With this president. And the next. And the next. And the next. And all who follow.”
National outlets like The Atlantic also joined in the effort.
“The press is neither the enemy of the people nor its ally, but rather its possession,” The Atlantic wrote in a piece titled “The Freedom of the Press is Yours.”
In the days leading up to Thursday’s coordinated effort, Pritchard said it was key that each paper wrote its own message.
“The impact of Trump’s assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston,” she wrote in the pitch to other papers. “Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.”
About 350 newspapers in the United States will have editorials Thursday decrying President Donald Trump’s description of the media as the “enemy of the people.”
Here are some of the newspapers blasting Trump’s anti-press rhetoric.
The Altamont Enterprise
Journalism needs a champion — you
The Atlantic City Weekly
Joining in solidarity with the Boston Globe, others
Athol Daily news
Trump’s media attacks are dangerous
Journalists are watchdog neighbors, not enemy of the people
The Baltimore Sun
News media won’t back down under pressure from president
The Berkshire Eagle
Our Opinion: Trump’s assaults on press are assaults on democracy
The Bismark Tribune
We aren’t the ‘enemy’ when covering news
The Boston Globe
Journalists are not the enemy
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Journalists aren’t the enemy; we are you
The Chicago Sun-Times
This newspaper is the ‘enemy’ of all that hurts ‘the people’
The Chicago Tribune
Mr. President: We aren’t enemies of the people. We’re a check on government
We are not the enemy of the people
The Chagrin Valley Times
Local news is real
The media are not the enemy
The ultimate friend of the people
The Daily Free Press
Journalists are not the ‘enemy of the people,’ they are the people
Dallas Morning News
We the people hold our elected officials accountable
Daily Hampshire Gazette
Journalists performing public service are not the enemy
We stand with our US colleagues against ‘Fake News’ claims
The Denver Post
We are simply standing up for what we believe in as journalists
Des Moines Register
Media are not the enemy of the people; a free press is critical to democracy
Duluth News Tribune
Free press — our protection from tyranny
The Delaware County Daily Times
President Trump, we are not the enemy of the people
The Daily Item
This just in: We are not the enemy
Defendemos la libertad de prensa
The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
Phrases damaging for free press
The Elizabethtown Advocate
We need Freedom of the Press, Not Freedom in Name Only
Newsprint Tariffs and Fake News Mantra a Threat to Democracy
Falls City Journal
‘We are not the enemy, we are your peers, friends, and neighbors.’
Our View: ‘Fake news’ and all the president’s taunts
The Ferndale Enterprise
Editorial: Way ahead of the curve
The Freeman Courier
‘Enemy of the people’ rhetoric damaging
The Grand Forks Herald
This is not fake news
Hillsboro Free Press
Discrediting media a dangerous plan
Hays Free Press
We are the people
The news isn’t ‘fake’ just because you see things differently
Idyllwild Town Crier
Out Loud: Fake news, American institutions, and the presidency
President Trump’s attacks on the press must stop
The Kansas City Star
President Trump, we’re not ‘enemies of the people.’ End your war on our free press
The Lakeville Journal
Perspective on truth, lies, respect and hate
Press freedom is a Vermont value
The New York Times
A Free Press Needs You
New York Post
Hate the press all you want — we’ll keep reporting
News and Tribune
We are defined by purpose, not the president
Omaha World-Herald remains committed to our community and state
Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel
President Trump, the press isn’t the ‘enemy’ — it’s America’s watchdog
The Orange County Register
The president’s dangerous dubbing of media as America’s enemy
Panama City News Herald
We are your defense
Journalists are not the ‘enemy of the people’
The Plymouth Review
This dirty war against the press must end
The Providence Journal
Trump attacks the messenger
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Stop the war on a free press
Queens Courier and the Ridgewood Times
Stop attacking the press! Remember the First Amendment of our Constitution
We believe in power of good journalism
The Ripon Commonwealth Press
One thing worse than the ‘enemies of the American people’ …
Real Change News
There has never been a more critical time to engage in free speech
The San Diego Union-Tribune
How we restore faith in journalism
The Sag Harbor Express
We Are the People
The Seward County Independent
Trump’s attacks on media unfair
Sentinel of Gloucester County
Call for action to protect the freedom of the press
The Sun Chronicle
Sun Chronicle joins others in emphasizing importance of free press
Swift County Monitor-News
Attacks on journalists will lead to violence
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Stand in defense of the truth. Don’t let Trump label journalists as “the enemy”
The Star Democrat
Trump is the source, not subject, of fake news
Swift County Monitor-News
Attacks on journalists will lead to violence
Society of Professional Journalists
The press isn’t “fake”
The Star News
Trump’s attacks on press go too far
The Star Democrat
Your local newspaper is your neighbor
The Swellesley Report
What’s important about this isn’t so much what we do, it’s that we can do it
Tampa Bay Times
Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy
No more enemies
The Topeka Capital-Journal
Press isn’t ‘enemy of the people’
Valencia County News Bulletin
We are not the enemy; We are the people
Van Buren County Democrat
Friends like these
We stand for press freedom