Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth

President Trump has prompted a new era of attacks on journalists, emboldening other politicians across the country and around the globe to follow suit.

These assaults on the credibility of the news media have already had an alarming impact: Two months before the 2016 presidential election, Gallup found that Americans’ trust in mass media fell to its lowest levels in the history of its polling.

But Trump is just the latest in a long line of threats to effective journalism.

Across the country, many communities lack a single newspaper that uniquely serves their area. The growth of these news deserts has been worsened by the influence of Facebook and Google in the advertising industry, and by billionaires who buy news outlets and then gut them.

As financial incentives change, journalists are asked to produce content that will attract clicks and advertisers, instead of stories that expose corruption, spotlight the marginalized, or alert the public to injustice and abuse.

These times call for renewed recognition and support for journalism dedicated to serving the common good. And for the past 68 years, that’s precisely the kind of journalism the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which I lead, has dedicated itself to honoring.

Named after Sidney Hillman, who founded and led the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the awards have come to be known as the “People’s Pulitzers.”

The winners of the 2018 Hillman Prize — who were honored this month — are uncovering the truth and creating change on some of the great issues of our times, from labor abuses to war crimes to white-collar drug trafficking.

Take, for example, the relentless reporting from USA TODAY journalist Brett Murphy, who documented an extensive network of abusive lease-to-own contracts from port trucking companies. Those deals turned tens of thousands of mostly immigrant truck drivers into modern-day indentured servants.

Workers have been trying to organize for years with the Teamsters to correct these abuses, and Murphy’s work helped spur immediate changes.

It prompted internal audits by major retailers — including Target, Home Depot, and Walmart — to ferret out abusive port trucking companies in their supply chains. And it spurred the introduction of federal, state, and local legislation to improve safety conditions for port truckers.

And consider a joint investigation by reporters from 60 Minutes and the Washington Postthat exposed a war within the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Justice Department over whether to hold the powerful drug industry accountable for fueling the opioid epidemic.

The report forced the Trump administration’s would-be drug czar — Rep. Tom Marino, who helped pass a bill making it harder to crack down on companies that sold opioids to suspicious pharmacies — to withdraw his nomination. And it prompted investigations by Congress into the DEA’s failure to aggressively pursue the worst offenders in an epidemic that’s claimed 200,000 lives and counting.

From Nazi Germany to the modern-day Philippines, the first sign of a foundering democracy has always been the erosion of a free press.

This is why our nation’s founders enshrined the right to a free press in the very first amendment to the Constitution, and why today we must amplify the work of journalists who force transparency on powerful institutions from City Hall to Capitol Hill, despite increasingly strong headwinds.

Since 1950, the Hillman Prizes have recognized journalists whose reporting exemplifies Sidney Hillman’s belief that a free press was essential to a fair and equal society. These journalists are activists for the truth and accountability that underpins our democracy — and in this moment, we must be advocates for them.

Bruce Raynor is president of the Sidney Hillman Foundation.

 

More articles by:
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail