Despite president’s attacks, press plays primary role

In the world of news, people often forget to ask themselves where their news and information comes from. The now-forgotten scandal of Russian Internet trolls invading Facebook and Twitter during the presidential election in 2016 is just one taste of how easy it is for people to trust unreliable sources. It also reminds us of the dangers in undermining a free press system.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “Freedom of speech, or of the press.” This means that the press has the right to publish without any government interference; that is, freedom of press. This amendment applies to all written works, books included. It is a recent book that calls to attention the relevancy of freedom of the press.

Earlier this month, President Trump tried to stop publication Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” that is critical of his presidency.  John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, the books publisher, said, “We received a demand from the President of the United States to ‘immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination’ of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. On Thursday afternoon we responded with a short statement saying that we would publish the book, and we moved the pub date forward to the next day.”

Sargent later wrote why he was standing up for the First Amendment. “The president is free to call news ‘fake’ and to blast the media. That goes against convention, but it is not unconstitutional. But a demand to cease and desist publication—a clear effort by the President of the United States to intimidate a publisher into halting publication of an important book on the workings of the government—is an attempt to achieve what is called prior restraint. That is something that no American court would order as it is flagrantly unconstitutional.”

At a high school newspaper, standing up for a free press is important, too. Yet, our situation is somewhat different. As a news team and professional paper, the Tiger Hi-Line’s goal is to always offer the truth. Yet, under the Iowa High School Press Law Code 280.22, the adviser of the newspaper or journal has the liability of what is being published. That means we have to be even more careful than other news media.

Fake news should not be endorsed by anyone, not even by the most powerful. What should be published, should be the truth, the press should never give in to intimidation to prevent printing it.

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