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home : opinions : our views August 22, 2017

3/2/2017 2:55:00 PM
I have your back
Brooke Bechen
Reporter/News and Features

Surrounded by peers and colleagues at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual convention Friday afternoon, we (interestingly) all learned at the same time that our president had once again barred select journalists from covering White House affairs. As we, "the enemy of the people," gathered together to learn from each other and share the pluses and minuses in our newsrooms, we all paused to think on the series of events that have recently unfolded in our nation. And as professionals in newsrooms across Wisconsin - big and small, dailies and weeklies - we discussed how we would have reacted if we were in someone else's journalistic shoes that day.
We all asked ourselves whether we would have stayed with the journalists that were let in to cover President Trump's affairs that day, or if we would have left the press conference in solidarity with those who weren't allowed in. As the discussion continued, I thought of my upbringing in a small town, and the lessons I've learned working at a community-driven newspaper.
Many seem to feel that working in a national newsroom as the highest accomplishment a journalist can achieve. I'd beg to differ - working in a small, community-driven newsroom has given me a perspective I wouldn't trade for anything. I feel I would drown in a large newsroom, where I might cover a large fire, like the one at the Don Q Inn, every couple of days instead of (I pray) every couple of years.
I've found in my experiences in a living in and reporting in a small town, we tend to stick together and have each other's backs. I'd like to think I would have chosen not to attend the press conference to show those in my field that I have their back too.
I commend the reporters from The Associated Press and Time magazine, who were set to be allowed into the conference, but chose not to attend. We are a special kind of community - those of us in the news business - and I think we need to stick together. To me, our jobs are more important than ever!
I'll end with a quote from Arizona Senator John McCain, who recently said: "I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital."
"If you want to preserve - I'm very serious now - if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time."

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