The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Maligning journalists is a destructive endeavor

Perhaps the late Gwen Ifill, longtime PBS news anchor and moderator of “Washington Week,” is one who understood what the true role of a reporter is: “I wanted to be a journalist because I like to ask questions. And I like the idea that someone might feel responsible for answering them.”

Writers in the news business record moments in time by gathering information to be relayed to the public; that’s what they do, and hopefully, he or she always shoots for fairness and accuracy.

But there are some who distrust the mainstream media, and even the President of the United States enjoys labeling that which doesn’t please him as “fake news.”

That really irks me because it’s maligning the credibility of those who serve as journalists. And to watch the White House openly blast reporters in the briefing room about what topics to cover, how they are handling stories, and alleging inaccuracies challenges the tenets of the freedom of the press under the First Amendment.

It’s embarrassing to catch the barrage of fake news accusations emerging on a daily basis, especially when politicians demand that a news outlet alter the decisions it makes on covering topics and even tries to bar certain reporters from showing up at an event.

It is nothing more than bullying and intimidation, and destructive to the nation.

Like Publisher Joe McQuaid has often eloquently described in his columns, I understand the newspaper business because we both grew up in a newspaper family. Like many careers, this one demands long hours, frequent interruptions, major responsibility, a thirst for truth and justice, and comes complete with a boatload of stress.

And back before the digital age, things were done the hard way with the clickety-clack of manual typewriters, pens and notebooks — all the while accepting that journalism is a seven-days-a-week job.

I found an old letter my late father penned to me while I was in college at UNH. In a couple of brief paragraphs, he explained about the heavy snowfall of close to 20 inches that Nashua received on my birthday. Being the editor of my hometown newspaper meant he had to get to the office no matter what. And that he did, making the 1 1/4-mile trek from our home to the old Nashua Telegraph building by the bridge on Main Street by foot in his old black rubber boots and wearing his signature Fedora-style hat. Maybe he enjoyed a pipeful of tobacco along the way.

“While walking on Revere Street, near the path that takes me to Field’s Grove, I heard the plaintive cries of two crows. They sensed the storm was a biggie. And whatever happened to the squirrels we see occasionally.

The payoff: we struggled to go to press early, and later on learned that the news carriers would not be delivering because of unplowed streets and high drifts near or at residences....”

Just a part of the business — something those who work in it always understand.

From what I’ve read, only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press; our nation is very lucky indeed. It would be nice for folks to allow the news media to do their job.

They’re here to ask you questions, and you’re here to provide answers.

It’s that simple and how it’s always worked.