As troubling as some of the details were in Kevin Rennie’s most recent column in the Hartford Courant, about a two year battle for public records with the Lamont administration, a more worrisome trend is the one toward an open disdain for the news media by people in power and the absence of understanding within the general public about what the role of the news media is in our society.
The Founders insisted on free speech protections, including a free press, as a non-governmental instrument in a system based on checks and balances. A system that requires participation by all citizens and is led by the will of the people.
The press is not free from sin in our current crisis of non-participation. For economic reasons, the trend within the news industry in recent years has been away from journalism that requires time, money and commitment and toward a focus on the superficial or the partisan.
This allows some in power to take advantage of a world without watchdogs. It may also prove to be true(as in Florida and Texas) that political actors in both parties have taken the wrong lessons from four years of the Trump administration in Washington, D.C. The lesson being that the press is to be mocked, ridiculed, ignored, and villainized. When leaders succeed in convincing the public that the news media is the enemy, the public relinquishes its own power and becomes unwittingly complicit in whatever follows.