WTVM Editorial 6/2/17: First Amendment needs support

(WTVM) - The recent assault on a journalist by the newly elected Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte is the most recent example of disrespect for journalists and more importantly, disrespect for the constitutional protections of free speech for all.

The Montana incident happened the same week that Texas Governor Greg Abbott made an unfunny joke about carrying his gun just in case, he said, he saw some reporters.

The week before, another reporter was physically restrained by guards at a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission, just for trying to ask a question.

An organization called Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 43rd in their annual world press freedom index. Reporters Without Borders rates the freedom, safety, and political climate journalists face in 180 countries. Norway ranks number one.

Ideally, America ought to rank number one. But recently, some politicians on both sides have expressed a deep dislike for reporters or stories they disagree with. terms like "mainstream media" and "fake news" are routinely thrown around when a fact or an opinion is disputed.

There is always more than one side to every story and we believe reporters need to earn respect by covering the news without bias.

But asking tough questions isn't bias and digging into uncomfortable stories is not fake news.

The society of professional journalists called the attack on the reporter in Montana "an attack against the freedoms America was founded on."

Indeed, our founding fathers knew their great vision for government by the people would not survive without freedom of speech. and that's a right guaranteed to every American citizen by the first amendment, not just journalists.

That's why the first amendment ought to be cherished and protected by all of us.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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