Free press and public discussion

“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,” Thomas Jefferson famously wrote to his friend.

Perhaps, the best quotes about free press being the hallmark of democracy have already been said, oft-repeated or reinvented with their core essence remaining intact. We pull them out of the quotes inventory and refresh them each time the First Amendment is assailed. Time and again, the press is being challenged and defended. In the Trump era, this has become a regular routine.

Twitter has become a battlefield and President Trump’s attack post, from where he constantly fires a salvo of taunts at the Fourth Branch, which he calls “the enemy of the people” and the editors, reporters and other media people who are, “very dangerous and sick.”

“Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right,” the New York Times wrote in its Aug. 15 editorial. “News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.”

The New York Times is among the more than 350 U.S. media organizations that published editorials— coordinated by the Boston Globe but written by each outlet— denouncing the presidential “war against the free press."

"The press is neither the enemy of the people nor its ally, but rather its possession," The Atlantic said in its editorial titled, “The Freedom of the Press is Yours.” In the same vein, the Valencia County News-Bulletin in Belen, New Mexico, wrote, “We are not the enemy of the people; we are the people.”

While the Pacific islands media may be outside of Trump’s firing zone, the journalism industry in this part of the world has its own battle to fight.

Suppression of free speech is most blatant in Nauru, whose government has zero-tolerance for dissent. In July, the Nauruan government banned the Australia Broadcasting Corp. from entering the country “under any circumstances,” citing the organiza