GUEST COMMENTARY: Not the enemy of the people

by Watermark Central Florida Bureau Chief Jeremy Williams and Tampa Bay Bureau Chief Ryan Williams-Jent

(This editorial originally appeared in the August 23, 2018, issue of Watermark, based in Orlando, Fla.)
Beginning August 16, prompted by The Boston Globe, over 400 news outlets nationwide shared their support for the free press and their opposition to Donald Trump’s relentless attacks on it.
“A central pillar of President Trump’s politics is a sustained assault on the free press. Journalists are not classified as fellow Americans, but rather ‘The enemy of the people,’” the outlet wrote. “This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences. We asked editorial boards from around the country – liberal and conservative, large and small – to join us today to address this fundamental threat in their own words.”
Today, Watermark answers The Globe’s call. We stand with journalists and citizens across the nation to say, enough!
Founded in 1994, Watermark is a multi-faceted media company, using opportunity and innovation to communicate and advance LGBTQ interests. We have a corporate emphasis on professionalism while building strong relationships with our readers, customers and community.
We print up to 20,000 copies biweekly and distribute them to over 500 locations throughout Orlando, Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Florida at large. For over10 years, we’ve maintained, updated daily –  and we donate over $300,000 annually in free and sponsor advertising to local and national LGBTQ non-profits.
Trump – whether addressing supporters at his rallies or addressing the nation, and the world, through his Twitter account – has built his presidency on calling the press “fake news” and “the enemy of the people.” We are not the enemy of the people; we are the people, dedicated to sharing the truth.
We are the people who celebrated with this community when marriage equality came to the whole United States. We are the people who mourned with this community when ignorance and gun violence made us feel unprotected in our safe havens. The triumphs and the tragedies found within the stories of our ever-growing LGBTQ community have merit and meaning. We will continue to listen to and share them.
In part, it’s why Watermark’s first in-depth of the year was “Darkest Before Dawn,” a look at how Donald Trump’s first year in office impacted the LGBTQ community. Whatever your feelings on the man, it’s difficult to deny he’s impacted every community across the nation – ours very much included.
From Trump’s selection of notoriously anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence as his running mate to tweeted transgender military bans to standing on the event stages of ultraconservative groups that say our relationships are not valid and that our lives are nothing but a mental disorder, Watermark has covered the nation’s 45th president. We’ve done so because it is our responsibility. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly, nor has it been taken lightly by the journalists who have come before us who held those in institutions of power accountable for their actions.
It was The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s reporting on the Watergate scandal that forced the investigations that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
It was the Boston Globe’s investigative “Spotlight” team that exposed how deep and widespread the child abuse scandal was in the Roman Catholic Church at the turn of the millennium.
The press is the most powerful weapon a free society has to wield against corrupt institutions and leaders. While they may not have to always like the press, they must respect them for their role in a free democracy.
Founding Father and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson – who at times expressed a great dislike of the press – understood its importance, writing, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with journalists from across the country and around the world, Watermark will continue to bring the stories that amplify your voices and speak truth to power.
We leave you with this, from the New York Times’ editorial, “If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.”

Volume 20
Issue 7

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