Letter to the Editor: Value of a free press



To the Editor:

About a week before the Boston Globe called for a nationwide response to the flagrant attacks on the press, I was sent notification of this call for action, and forwarded this alert to the Islander, in case they had not received it from other sources. When the paper came out the following Thursday and there was no editorial response, I was surprised and troubled.

Two days later, I received an email from Liz Graves, editor, in which she wrote, “We decided it would be strange to defend the press from attack in an editorial when in the community we serve we enjoy extraordinary support.”

This response left me more than troubled. It has me confused and dismayed. How could our paper and its editorial staff not understand that the attacks on the press are not a local issue but an assault which is both national and worldwide? And how could anyone not react with trepidation and deep-felt angst at the dissemination of a fabric of obfuscation and undermining of reality that has no basis in facts or truth?

When “truth is not truth,” science is a hoax, our previous president is not really an American citizen, when we hear and see the head of our government say, on live television, something which two days later he says he never said, what recourse do we have?

I would submit that the role of a free press is to ferret out the facts, present them, and maintain the separation between opinion and fact. We can debate our reaction to what is happening, we can differ, often widely, in our reactions to information, but we need to be able to count on a way to access information in as objective a way as possible.

One can deny that we are living in a time of significant climate change, but the floods, mudslides, hurricanes, droughts, and record temperatures are still happening. Reporting on these occurrences is the role of a free press. And changing the language we use to differentiate between fact and fabrication, truth and lies, does not change the reality. It only serves as an attempt to gaslight the public.

I am most deeply sorry the Islander does not appear to share my commitment and profound value for a free press, or at least not strongly enough to stand up for it in its editorial column. I was glad to see that more than 350 newspapers in the United States chose to do so.

Ellen L. Dohmen

Bar Harbor

 

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