“Democracy dies in the dark”

Under this epigraph, which is the motto of The Washington Post, Martin Baron, its executive director, has given us the new clinchers that settle the new challenge of his journal to defend the freedom of the press in the United States.

Nobody forgets that the emblematic media of the immense American press have come into collision with the president Trump, who often mocks them, label them as enemies of the nation and propagators of false news.

That climate of hostility that’s created between him and the press is what has raised fears that a great asset of the American democracy, such as the freedom of the press, would suffer serious deterioration, since it coincides with an increase in physical attacks and threats to the journalists.

Alarmed by the unusual bias that this confrontation has taken, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) decided to organize, in conjunction with the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a meeting in Washington to discuss with the authorities the issues that affect the exercise of journalism.

But Baron is clear that The Washington Post is a journal that has made history with research and critical journalism (here fits the example of Watergate) and that its mission is to strengthen the premise that “the press is the truth” and that its pillar of support is the journalism of high quality.

In a conversation he held with the editors attending the 73rd General Assembly of the IAPA in Salt Lake City, Utah, Baron outlined some actions that his team has taken to face the consequences of this kind of threats.

One of them is the creation of a reporters team specialized in the affairs and interiors of the White House to monitor daily what is said and what remains silent, to exhaustively examine the declarations and official reports of the Executive to detect if what they say holds truth or are simply abusive and manipulative statements.

Baron wants to differentiate the mistakes, which are never really disregarded in the handling of data from unofficial sources, from the conspiracy against the truth, which are the arguments on which Trump relies to vent his criticism about the press.

He proposes to “do more of what we’ve done” to expose the intrinsic threats that weigh on press freedom in his country, no matter what it takes, without submitting to the pressures of the government or partaking into complacent treatment with the political field.

In addition, he wants to reinforce the reports of the reality, the journalistic investigation, subject on which the Post has given exemplary lessons, and the armoring of the truth, to modify the perceptions created by the speech of Trump.

Baron has hired about 140 journalists, at a time when the staff of newspapers have suffered the outflow of more than 8 thousand journalists in recent years, to fight for the truth and the rescue of credibility and confidence, diminished since the electoral process last year.

The IAPA has said that Trump “wants to mold public opinion, but there’s a risk that, as it usually happens around highly polarized populist regimes, his followers will become fanatics and this can lead to social conflicts, since from public booing, as media and journalists suffer, to physical aggression, there is only a short step.”

Translated from spanish by Randy Rodríguez.