If you work in the news business, you get used to politicians screaming at you. In Maine we have survived nearly eight years of Gov. LePage – who likes to tell audiences that buying a newspaper is like “paying someone to lie to you.”

Since we’re often telling the public things that someone in power wishes weren’t known, we can take pride in the abuse. If they are attacking us, we figure, we must be doing something right.

But the usual sparring has taken a sinister turn lately. We have a president who calls us “disgusting,” “dishonest,” “Fake News” and “the enemy of the people,” using the biggest bullhorn in the history of the world to attack fellow citizens who are trying their best to give people the information they need to make informed choices. He’s not just trying to “win” a news cycle, he’s attacking the institution of the free press itself, diminishing its ability to do its job.

NOT NORMAL TIMES

Normally we let our work speak for itself, but these are not normal times. Today, we are taking a moment to defend an institution to which many of us have devoted our lives. Along with roughly 200 newspaper editorial boards around the country, in an effort organized by The Boston Globe, we want our readers to understand what’s at stake.

Today we stand together with our competitors to warn you that a pluralistic democracy can’t survive without a free and independent press, and any powerful person who claims to have “an exclusive” on the truth should not be trusted.

If you visit a newsroom in Maine, you will find people who work long hours for not much money because they believe in a mission.

Our work is a search for the truth, and when we do it well, it’s a crucial element of a system of government that makes an informed citizenry the ultimate authority.

If we fail, power shifts from the people to the hucksters and spin-meisters, who can pass off a self-serving sales pitch as the whole story.

You can hope that they won’t do anything worse than rob you. But history is full of examples of what happens when you mix secrecy and unchecked power. Fighting this fight would be a big responsibility for any business, let alone one that has seen as much financial turmoil as ours. We think you should know, however, that it’s one that we take very seriously.

Journalists believe that the best way to find the truth is by posing the right questions to the right people and checking their answers against other sources. A great piece of journalism can be thrilling to read, but it can also be frustrating. It can make you lose respect for one of your heroes or doubt something that you desperately wanted to be true. It’s our job to tell people things they may not want to hear.

CHECKING THE FACTS

There’s a reason that freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Constitution, and it’s not because journalists are perfect.

We make mistakes, just like everyone else. We can be influenced by biases that we may not have even known we had. Sometimes, we just plain miss a story.

But when we misstate a fact, we correct it. When someone disagrees with our interpretation of events, we give them space to tell another side of the story. As new facts emerge, we’ll revisit our work and retell the story in a way that reflects a fuller understanding of what happened.

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We are devoted to a process that puts the truth of the matter ahead of who wins and who loses. That doesn’t always make us popular, but it is one of the few bulwarks standing between freedom and tyranny.

And in an uncertain world, this embattled industry might be the best defense you’ve got.

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