Dear President Trump:
How are you? I hope you are fine. How is Mrs. Trump? I hope she is fine, too.
I am writing you this letter to let you know that, whether it is intended or not, you are making my job and the job of many hard-working journalists like me much more difficult.
Let me explain. I am the editor of a rural community weekly newspaper in Wallow County, Oregon. Everything our newspaper does is designed to inform, educate and occasionally entertain our readers.
We do our dead level best to make sure our reporting is accurate and welcome feedback from our readers to make sure we are meeting that goal.
Folks walk into my small office here in Enterprise and offer their input regularly. Others will share their comments when I am dining in one of our local restaurants or shopping at the grocery store. We have great discussions of the issues of the day.
We print everything from simple calendar of events announcements to in-depth investigative pieces along with editorials that address both the good and bad in our community on a regular basis. We consider letters to the editor vital content. We run a plethora of guest columns each month.
We aren’t the enemy of the people. Not even close.
Our small county has many voters who are strong supporters of yours, Pres. Trump. They tend to believe what you say. If you say the press is evil and doesn’t have the interest of the people in mind, they believe it.
So I occasionally deal with folks who want to paint me in the same light as CNN or the New York Times or the Washington Post. Here’s the primary difference.
Try to call an editor at one of those newspapers and see where it gets you. If you call the Chieftain, you will have the opportunity to speak to me directly.
We believe we play a vital role in our democracy, providing information as both a mirror and a lamp. A mirror to show our community what’s happening and a lamp to shed light into dark corners when necessary.
We don’t expect everyone to love us. People have been criticizing the press since before our country was founded. We are not perfect. We respect the rights of those who disagree with us and make room for their views.
We are not losers, we are not thugs, we are not dangerous. No matter how much I might disagree with you on a particular topic, I would never give you cause to feel like you needed to eject me from one of your press conferences.
So please, President Trump, the next time you make a broad proclamation about one-sided media, could you find a way to exempt the Wallowa County Chieftain?
I would be happy to send you some recent editions of our newspaper so you could see for yourself that we are fulfilling a vital role in our community. Or you can read our newspaper online.
If you would like to discuss this matter in person, I would welcome a phone call. I believe that if you occasionally came and visited places like Wallowa County, instead of making stops only in major metropolitan areas, you would have a different view of the role of the press.
And we are not alone. There are thousands of community weekly newspapers like ours across the country that are viewed as a vital service and co-laborer in the struggle for survival rural areas face each day –– not an enemy.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Your friend ... Paul.