We’ve gotten a few emails from protesters upset we didn’t cover their march through downtown Medford Tuesday, the third they’ve held in what are weekly demonstrations against President Trump. The senders have accused us of failing to be the journalistic leader we’ve been in the past and failing to be a representative of the free press in this country.
I’m not saying my choice to not cover the protest, which organizers say drew 300, was the right one. It was important to those people. They want their voices heard. I understand that. But I would like to explain my reasoning behind that decision.
We covered last week’s protest with story and photo on the front page and a video added online. All the protests so far have demanded that our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., resist Trump’s policies and Cabinet picks. I was reluctant to repeat what essentially would be the same story this week. It was one of the many decisions I make daily on how to best use our small staff’s time and energy.
We are committed, however, to covering how our new president’s policies affect local citizens. This week we chose two different approaches: Sunday’s front page focused on how local Latinos fear deportation after Trump announced stricter immigration enforcement. We’re also pursuing a story on how Trump’s ban on travel into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries is affecting the local Muslim community, which, it turns out, is also dealing with acts of racism by people who apparently feel emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric. That story is currently scheduled for the front page on Friday.
One of our many responsibilities as journalists is to give underrepresented people a voice, but we must also provide context and balance. Covering a similar protest by the same group of people every week doesn’t feel like balance to me; would those same people want us to cover a weekly pro-Trump rally?
That’s not to say we won’t find other ways of covering the weekly protest, or at least check in — as we did yesterday. The reporter who’s working on the Muslim impact story attended the gathering and talked to a few folks for his upcoming story. He also took a video, which we posted online today.
We’re always looking for story ideas about ways our government impacts local citizens. Please share your ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.