EDITORIAL – The Citizen Chronicle is here to serve our community. We are guided by an ethical code and established journalistic norms. We are watchers of history and supporters of democracy, curious by nature and rooted in our home communities.
Our intention is to serve our neighbors in Southern Worcester County. Since our launch, we have set out with passion and purpose and a dogged determination to inform you of what is going on in your community. We will continue to do this even when our resources are tight, our schedules busy and obstacles fall in our way. We are honored and challenged by the work.
Today, we join the hundreds of news organizations across the U.S. that are publishing editorials addressing the untruth of the outlandish statement by Donald Trump that the press is the “enemy of the people.” You will see a refrain in these editorials if you have the pleasure of reading a few of the contributions: “Our words differ but our sentiment is the same. We are not the enemy.”
If we were to look at the truth – the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – we would see that press freedoms are woven into our democratic fabric. It was founding father John Adams that said, “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom.”
Donald Trump’s broad-stroke claim that journalists are the enemy of the people is bold and provocative, but it is historically uninformed. It is also base and undeveloped, as are labels such as “sick,” “disgusting,” and “scum,” which have been thrown around by Trump to describe those in our line of work.
As reporters, we find that hard to take. But very easy to disprove.
If Trump were to listen to reason and reflect on history, he would be pleasantly surprised to learn that journalists are actually the heartfelt persistent storytellers of our democracy. But we don’t tell stories about our own political beliefs, our stance on a painful issue or our personal values. The stories we tell in our community are ones in which we step back, observe and report to inform.
We are at a critical time in the history of both news delivery and journalism itself. There are endless possibilities. You can watch, read or browse news almost anywhere and at any time of the day, with the freedom to self-select your news on digital platforms.
At the same time, journalists face mounting challenges, not limited to an increasing threat of violence, shrinking newsrooms and a climate of distrust in some parts. Trump continues to promote rhetoric that paints us, in an unqualified and absolute way, of being liars, criminals and, in a standby that is getting old, perpetrators of that which is “fake” or false.
Journalism and the business of news reporting have been vital in Massachusetts throughout American history. Readers might be surprised to learn that Southbridge, where we started The Citizen Chronicle, has played an important role as a historical seat for journalistic enterprise and innovation since Jan. 1, 1828. On that date, the town’s first newspaper, the Reformer and Moralist, launched for readers in this region.
That publication was short-lived, being renamed the Moralist and General Intelligencer and publishing its final issue not long afterward. However, that first local newspaper was the start of what has been almost 200 years of Southbridge-based journalism serving the towns of Southern Worcester County.
At one time, at least three Southbridge-based newspapers competed for readership. Southbridge journalism has been guided at times by great contributors to the craft, such as Virgil V. McNitt, founder of The McNaught Syndicate or Loren Ghiglione, the respected lifelong journalist and academic.
At The Citizen Chronicle, we are honored to serve in a profession with civic purpose. We enjoy sharing the stories that surround us. We will continue to do so for a long time after Trump’s dangerous, but we hope fleeting, false narrative about journalists fades into the historical notes and as the need for community journalism persists.