Journalism is key to democracy

Today, the Northwest Missourian joins hundreds of publications across the United States in answering a call brought forth by the Boston Globe.

A call to remind the public how we are essential to democracy and to remind them we are not the enemy.

The rash of attacks on the media by President Donald Trump has left the public feeling uneasy when it comes to the press. Trump has called the press the enemy of the people, dishonest, and has given rise to the term “fake news." He has even gone as far as to say some outlets invent sources and fabricate quotes. That is not who we are or what we do.

In general, the press has three main functions. To report the everyday news the people need to hear, to tell the stories of the people and to keep elected officials, public servants, and those with authority accountable. The last function is the most important as it is essential to our democracy.

There is a reason why the founding fathers protected the press when they wrote the constitution. Though times have changed, the way our democracy functions at its core hasn’t.

On a basic level, without the press, the public wouldn’t know how those with authority are functioning in their positons. No one would be reporting on what elected officials were accomplishing. No one would know if public servants were serving the public as they should. No one would know if those with authority were using their power correctly. Without that knowledge, the public wouldn’t know who to vote for when elections take place.

If no one votes or everyone casts uneducated votes, we are at risk of losing the things we pride ourselves in most - democracy and freedom.

As a student newspaper, the Northwest Missourian doesn’t have as much pull as larger publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Boston Globe. But we are just as important. We are a group of young professionals, learning on the job and doing our best to serve our community. We are certainly not the enemy.

Our role in Maryville is to cover local news, both on and off campus, provide sports coverage, entertainment news, breaking news and act as an open forum for people to voice their opinions.

Our job is to make sure the public is informed about things happening in Maryville and on campus. Our job is to be the watchdog who keeps those in power accountable. Our job is to be a voice for the voiceless and tell the stories of the people within our community.

The Northwest Missourian strives to produce honest, accurate and trustworthy content for those on campus and beyond. That being said, we are human, we have made mistakes in the past. But with new leadership, new goals and a new direction we are confidently moving forward to improve. However, we can’t do that without you, the reader.

We need feedback. We need to know when we got something wrong, we need to know what stories you want to hear and who has stories needing to be told. So by all means, read our content and criticize our coverage. But don’t stop there, tell us how we can better serve you.

 You are the reason we do what we do. If you want to give your input, write letters to the editor, email us your story ideas, or contact our editor-in-chief. We love hearing from the people we report for.

The press as a whole is imperfect. We are an entity comprised of imperfect human beings who inevitably make mistakes. Still, our job is one of great importance and we do our best to serve you well.

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