“The dirty war on the free press must end.”
That’s the idea behind an unusual editorial-writing initiative that has enlisted scores of newspapers across America.
The Boston Globe has been contacting newspaper editorial boards and proposing a “coordinated response” to President Trump’s escalating “enemy of the people” rhetoric.
“We propose to publish an editorial on August 16 on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date,” The Globe said in its pitch to fellow papers.
The effort began just a few days ago.
As of Saturday, “we have more than 100 publications signed up, and I expect that number to grow in the coming days,” Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe’s deputy editorial page editor, told CNN.
The American Society of News Editors, the New England Newspaper and Press Association and other groups have helped her spread the word.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Pritchard said. “We have some big newspapers, but the majority are from smaller markets, all enthusiastic about standing up to Trump’s assault on journalism.”
Instead of printing the exact same message, each publication will write its own editorial, Pritchard said.
That was a key part of her pitch: “The impact of Trump’s assault on journalism looks different in Boise than it does in Boston,” she wrote. “Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming.”
Journalists have noticed an uptick in Trump’s attacks against the news media in recent weeks. He has been using dehumanizing language like “enemy of the people” more often. He has also been speaking to reporters less often, limiting the chances for questions to be asked.
With Trump’s words and deeds as the backdrop, some media critics have urged the White House press corps to engage in acts of solidarity. There were cheers last month when reporters in the briefing room deferred to rivals who were trying to ask follow-up questions, and when numerous outlets stood up for CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins after Collins was told she could not attend a Trump event.
The coordinated editorials may be another example of unity across the news business.
Although there’s a longstanding debate about the effectiveness of newspaper editorials, there is certainly strength in numbers — the greater the number of participants, the more readers will see the message.
Pritchard said she expects differing views from the editorials, “but the same sentiment: The importance of a free and independent press.”