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KATIE ZERR: ‘We must have the courage to do what is morally right’

“A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny… Under dictatorship the press is bound to languish… But where free institutions are indigenous to the soil and men have the habit of liberty, the press will continue to be the Fourth Estate, the vigilant guardian of the rights of the ordinary citizen.”
– Winston Churchill –
Are we living in a time when fear of retaliation and ignorance about the free press could muzzle journalists?
Does retaliation have to be physical to stifle the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech?
This is an incredible time in our country. It is not the first time in our history that the press has been attacked and villainized, but it has been a long time since there has been such public and relentless pressure.
Many are forgetting that it is the job of the free press to root out information. That information cannot be brought to light if questions are not asked. If the source of that information is uncooperative, it can take a relentless journalist to open the eyes of the American public. Would we have ever found out about the corruption of the Nixon Whitehouse had it not been for the Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and the others on staff at the Washington Post?
The role of journalists is important not only on the national level, but also in rural America. If it were not for the editors and reporters spending late nights sitting through meetings, spending precious time listening to elected officials or long hours watching videos, would the residents understand what is happening in their communities?
If there is a local drug ring or a crooked businessman taking advantage of residents, sometimes it is a small town journalist that breaks open the story.
When someone retaliates against a journalist, whether it is with violence such as what happened at the Capital Gazette or someone threatening a journalist’s livelihood, it creates an atmosphere of apprehension because others will also be affected by those tactics.
In a time when the leader of the country has labeled the press an enemy of the state and reporters trying to get answers to very important questions are threatened by high-ranking officials and supporters of this administration, the muzzle is tightening around the media.
Even if we are not threatened physically, intimidation is used on regular basis to try to silence a voice.
Why is it that some feel their side of the political realm or issues is the only side that deserves to be told? Are we at a point in this country that opposing ideals cannot be seen or heard?
This is a tumultuous time in our country. There are people who are attacking the opposition, the law, the judicial and the media in order to try and silence them. Those in the media who believe that we must do what is best for the country, must fervently fight for what we believe is right and should never fear to speak out.
Those who would try to threaten our livelihood or intimidate those who work with us are using tactics that are not morally right.
Before members of our Congress became spineless pawns of this political climate, it was members of that Congress who led the charge to protect all aspects of our government’s checks and balances. Today, they are puppets for big money and lap dogs for those who use fear and intimidation to rule.
We should be a country of leaders not rulers. That is not the case in this political climate.
Those who work hard ever day to insure what we put on paper is the truth, are finding it harder and harder to do our job because the truth is becoming less important to a segment of our nation. Like a run-away train, this new era of non-factual information being presented as truth presents a danger to our country and our way of life.
It is the job of the journalist to hang on to the controls for dear life and wrestle the truth back on the track.
This is not a Republican versus Democrat or Conservative versus Liberal problem. It is an American problem.
Ronald Reagan said, “There are no easy answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”
That is what the reporter at the Capital Gazette did when he truthfully told the story of how Jarrod Ramous harassed and intimidated people in the community. Five people paid the ultimate sacrifice for that truth.
Those who feel that it is only their right to be heard and those who use threats and intimidation to try and silence the opposition must remember they are also targeting others who are just doing their jobs.
It is not morally right. It is not the American way.
– Katie Zerr –