Closer to home, relations, press and elected officials, civil

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By Anthony Stanford – 

It’s not just members of the White House press corps who are appalled by the treatment of their colleagues by the president of the United States. More often it concerns every-day Americans that the vitriol and personal attacks referring to the media, as “enemies of the people” is extremely dangerous.

When the White House press credentials of the frequently singled-out and much-maligned CNN reporter Jim Acosta were revoked for asking Donald Trump a question, it felt just like an indictment of this country.

Yet, during this worrying and divisive time take comfort that closer to home relations between the press and elected officials are mostly civil, and dare I say good-natured. And, it’s hard to envision a Fox Valley area reporter being barred from a city council meeting just for asking a question.

Fair-minded individuals understand that when the media exercises the right of expression it is performing a service that’s necessary to inform the public. Following that logic, most would agree that for doing their jobs, members of the press shouldn’t have to risk their well-being.

You’d be hard-pressed to argue that the founding fathers would have among the freedoms provided in the First Amendment included freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, if it were not fundamental to our democracy.

As a journalist, for more than a quarter-century, I’ve seen firsthand a very different relationship between members of the press and elected officials. Aurora’s media coverage related to even the most divergent issues rarely prompts incivility or contentious exchanges.

In a city of slightly more than 200,000 residents in Aurora the media isn’t seen as an adversary, and there is nothing remotely akin to the Trumpian viciousness occurring in Washington, D.C..

It’s not Mayberry, but Aurora maintains its small-town feel and charm. Sure, there are disagreements, but the difference is that our elected officials and members of the press are likely to shop at the same grocery stores or their children attend the same schools.

I’ve written about controversial and politically-charged issues involving race and politics, yet when individuals approach me sometimes to disagree with something I’ve said, it’s never in a mean-spirited or threatening way.

It’s irrational to make predictions about where the relationship between the press and the Donald Trump administration will end up. However, it’s entirely rational to expect that members of the press should be treated with respect and dignity. If you have any doubt, I suggest that you talk with the families of the 43 journalists killed around the world so far this year, or the 155 who are imprisoned around the world for doing their jobs.

Anthony Stanford is an author and freelance writer.

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