When the powerful try to paint the press in broad strokes as the enemy of the country, it undermines the entire system of trust that our news system is based on…we are obligated to push back.

It is terrifying when public figures in our highest offices, including the presidency, try to discredit the media en masse by using personal attacks, name-calling and public shaming, says the editorial board of the New York Queens Tribune.

As we celebrate National Newspaper Week Oct. 1-7, we assure you the media expects to be subject to public scrutiny. We should be held accountable when we make mistakes, but that does not justify the withholding of information, the restriction of access or the outright attacks by thin-skinned politicians.

If the American people are convinced by those in power that the press, as an institution, is simply serving its own interests, or working at the behest of political factions, then even basic facts will be dismissed as “fake news.”

Even Vice President Mike Pence recently reminded us “Our founders did not put the freedom of the press in the first amendment to the constitution because they got good press—quite the opposite was true.”

The Queens Times editors warn that without the press, it’s the powerful who hold all the cards, who control the narrative and who may determine which sources are “real” and which ones are “fake.”

The American people deserve to know that their information is coming from reporters pursuing truth, not partisan talking points. There is something wrong when their reputations are being unfairly challenged.

To hear President Donald Trump rant, every member of the media is dishonest and crooked. The people at your local newspaper are not faceless people. They take the job of pursuing stories that affect your life and your communities seriously. They are your friends and neighbors. They work hard to deserve your trust.

Distinctly different from large daily newspapers, the weekly community newspaper, and the small daily newspaper, remain the single best source of news and information that is important to you and is not available anywhere else.

As your local newspaper, it is crammed full of local news, award-winning photos and special features. Community newspapers are treasured because they run the whole gauntlet of events and happenings in the communities they serve.

Democracy is simply not possible without a free, independent press and that’s true all the way down the line. Keeping your wits about you is the key to surviving this age of disinformation.

One of the most disorienting things about this moment in our history is the hyperdrive-speed of the news cycle. News comes at you 24/7. Because content now moves faster than our comprehension, we must take a break now and then and allow our brains time to catch up, says Todd Milbourn, an award-winning investigative journalist based at the University of Oregon.

We are in danger of letting propaganda distort the facts that undermined our shared reality. We are continually fed a litany of falsehoods by trusted political leaders who have an agenda and people no longer believe anything they hear.

People are becoming cynical, obedient or some combination of the two, Milbourn said, and the wounds are cutting deep. Reporters work to shine light on local issues and events that dispel fake news, misinformation and alternative facts.

We are being fed fiction as though it is fact from the Washington Beltway on a daily basis. People depend on their trusted media representatives to filter the news. They try to help people tell when facts slide into fiction. Even then, they are left to wonder if the truth even exists at all.

In 2014 the Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling that underscored “the importance of open and transparent government to the health of our body politic” and the judges wrote “the public interest outweighs the private.”

The role of journalists and the media has been challenged and reduced in recent years by the growth of social media…like Twitter and Facebook. Anyone with a Smartphone or a Tablet can undermine traditional forms of media and they can produce great amounts of news that may present a biased, unfiltered viewpoint.

During Sunshine Week in March we were reminded that now, more than ever, Americans need to recognize the importance of open government to a robust democracy.

The Freedom of Information Act gives citizens the right to obtain information from federal, state and local governments…information that your tax dollars paid to collect.

This week and every week, take a moment to consider what your life would be like if government officials operated in total secrecy and restricted your access to information.

Resolve to support organizations fighting against those in power who seek to weaken open government protections. When you want information from a police department, local government or school board, ask for it.