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Sunday, December 17, 2017

If you’re stressing over what to give friends and loved ones during this holiday season, I’m here to help.

Consider giving them print or digital subscriptions — or both — to news organizations you regularly count on to provide strong journalism. That includes national newspapers and magazines, as well as regional papers that anchor your communities. Keep in mind public radio and television stations, too, which always need more financial support.

Now, I understand how you might see this request as self-serving on my part. I am a journalist, to state the obvious; worse, to state the god-awful for some, I am a columnist paid to give my opinion. Surely, I have a vested interest in the survival of my profession.

The thing is, so do you.

Regardless of whom we supported for president, it should concern all of us that we are about to enter a period of alarming uncertainty regarding media access to the White House and to the coming administration. So far, we have no reason to believe that Donald Trump will not continue his campaign practice of abuse and avoidance.

Democracy cannot thrive without journalists who hold accountable those elected to protect it.

No recent president has been fond of the media, but President-elect Trump has taken this wariness to new lows. He has made clear, repeatedly and loudly, that he hates us and sees no reason even to speak to us.

Days after his election, he accused the media of “inciting” protests against him. This was a lie. During his campaign, he banned a growing list of reporters and repeatedly mocked the journalists standing in front of him. He also encouraged supporters at his rallies to taunt the media and call them names.

One photo at a rally showed a Trump supporter wearing a T-shirt promoting lynching of journalists. Do I think Trump supports that? No, but it’s troubling that once the photo went viral, he didn’t denounce this. It’s indisputable that his behavior inspired it.

Journalists and the news organizations that employ them are not about to cave. For all the complaints about media coverage, many of them justified, a large number of journalists, mostly for print organizations, brought close and relentless scrutiny to Trump’s campaign. In this era of increasingly influential “fake news” sites, they are now doubling down on efforts to provide sound reporting that will still include the fact-checks that Trump so loathes.

How he loves his Twitter account. Never stops bragging about the freedom to push out whatever misinformation and outright lies that catch his fancy. He thinks he can get around the media by tweeting, with no apparent concern for the potential harm to Americans and countries around the world. Even if you find his addiction to Twitter entertaining or dismiss it as a mere distraction, please ask yourself this: Why doesn’t the next president of the United States think he should have to answer any questions that don’t come from a family member or a sycophant? What is he hiding? What does he not want you to know?

Doesn’t it make you feel a little bit better to know that journalists will keep trying? Wouldn’t you rather have all the information and decide for yourself what matters?

If you’re holding a newspaper right now to read my column, it’s possible that I’m the only liberal on this page. Many editorial pages skew more conservative, yet here I am.

Think what that says about newspapers and the people deciding what goes on their opinion pages. They may not agree with me, but they publish my opinions anyway because they value the wild tumble of ideas over an echo chamber. I am grateful, of course, to these newspapers and every online site that runs my column. Keeps me writing for a living. But you, too, are the beneficiary of this policy that trusts you to keep an open mind. This is democracy in action — and isn’t it nice to be so respected?

Less than an hour ago, I finished up my last journalism class for this semester as a professional in residence at Kent State University. It is impossible to be cynical in the company of these millennials. They care about journalism and their future in it, and they care about our country, too.

Many of my journalism students were alarmed by the outcome of the presidential race, but they have quickly rallied. They understand their role in keeping our country free, and they are eager to join the profession. I take heart in knowing that soon enough, they’ll be out there.

Let’s support them, shall we? Let’s invest in the future of journalism, while we still can.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: NS Newsflash via Flickr