Less than a month into his term, President Donald Trump ramped up his “fake news” battle with several national media outlets, referring to them at that time as the “enemy of the people.” The rhetoric continues 18 months later as the term “fake news” now permeates all aspects of our national dialogue, becoming a catch-all phrase used by many to dismiss news reports that are truthful and accurate but that a person simply does not agree with.
Mr. President, it’s time for the “fake news” talk to end. Using a broad brush to paint all members of the media as “fake news” — from national publications and broadcast outlets to community dailies and weekly newspapers — is not only untruthful, it’s harmful to our democracy.
The Standard-Examiner takes its role in this community of Northern Utah very seriously. It is our mission to accurately report the news and serve Northern Utah residents, a mission that we’ve held firm since our founding in 1888 and that we include in our masthead each day.
To readers, we’re your trusted news source covering this region of Utah, from city council and county commission meetings to high school football games and Pioneer Days.
However, we have noticed that some of our work covering issues of importance to the region has on occasion also been labeled as “fake news.”
As a community newspaper, our role also includes serving as watchdog journalists, to hold those in power accountable. At times that can include being at odds with the position of elected leaders in one of our own cities, and reporting on corruption in government operations like our jails or inappropriate behavior by those in positions of trust in our own schools.
Our mission has not wavered over the years. But today, when we take a position on our editorial page, or write a story based on records that documents wrongdoing in our community, we are accused of spreading “fake news.” That’s not only unfair, it’s flat-out incorrect and it’s harmful to our way of life in a free society.
We make mistakes, and when that occurs it is our duty and obligation to correct them and notify readers. We are not perfect, but the staff that comprise the Standard-Examiner care deeply about Northern Utah. “Fake news” is not a part of our business. We are your neighbors. We feel tax increases when they roll around, just like you. Some of our children have attended or currently attend the same schools as yours.
Unlike fabricated concoctions that spread on social media, we strive to be transparent in our dissemination of information by always including our names in the form of bylines with stories that we write, and listing our contact information for those that have questions or concerns.
Our goal every day is to provide Standard-Examiner readers with fair, truthful accounts of the happenings within Northern Utah.
This goal is one that our Founding Fathers expected and depended on when they formed our great nation: that an unfettered press is essential in enforcing accountability and responsibility in the government and to compel the government’s virtue.
Congress — and, by extension, the executive branch — shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press ...” they mandated in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Throughout our nation’s history, presidents have been closely followed by the press and some of them subjects of unfavorable reporting. However, an American president has never strived so deeply to set fellow Americans at odds with journalists like the present.
While labeling an assortment of national news outlets as “fake news”, our president has simultaneously perpetuated that attitude in its trickle down to individual, local communities throughout the United States — whether that result was intentional or not.
That is why we respectfully ask that you, Mr. President, end the “fake news” talk. It is not accurate of what is taking place in individual communities, and definitely not in Northern Utah.