San Francisco Chronicle rejects Boston Globe’s “free press” editorial campaign

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The San Francisco Chronicle says it declined to join a coalition of news outlets who agreed to publish complementary editorials on the Trump Administration’s repeated attacks against the media.

On Thursday, the newspaper’s editorial page editor John Diaz wrote that the while the Chronicle cared about First Amendmen protections and free speech, it declined to join more than 400 of its peer news outlets out of concerns that doing so might give the president and his supporters more ammunition in what many in the industry consider an ongoing assault against press freedom.

“It plays into Trump’s narrative that the media are aligned against him,” Diaz wrote. “He surely will attempt to cite this day of editorials to discredit critical and factual news stories in the future, even though no one involved in those pieces had anything to do with this campaign.”

Diaz noted the Chronicle had been critical of the Trump administration in many prior editorials and columns, suggesting those were more valuable because they were published independent of a concerted campaign.

“The Globe’s argument is that having a united front on the issue — with voices from Boise to Boston taking a stand for the First Amendment, each in a newspaper’s own words — makes a powerful statement,” Diaz said. “However, I would counter that answering a call to join the crowd, no matter how worthy the cause, is not the same as an institution deciding on its own to raise a matter.”

The Chronicle appeared to be responding to concerns that were found in many other newsrooms across the country. In Miami, an editor at the Herald newspaper said she received a concern from a former colleague asking if the paper’s participation in the campaign would feed directly into the hands of Trump supporters that the media was aligned against the administration.

“This initiative is not designed to change the minds of the most rabid Trump supporters,” Herald editor Nancy Ancrum told the website Poynter. “This is for people who take the First Amendment for granted, who must be more engaged … no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.”

On Thursday, Trump did respond to the editorial campaign, saying newspapers were “in collusion” with the Boston Globe and directing participants of the campaign to “Prove It!” The president did not explain exactly what the newspapers should prove.

In his tweet, Trump alleged the Boston Globe had been acquired by the New York Times only to be sold for the price of $1. The Times noted in its reporting that Trump’s assertion was incorrect — the paper was actually sold by the New York newspaper outlet for $70 million five years ago.

Later in the day, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution affirming that “the press is not the enemy of the people” and condemned “the attacks on the institution of the free press.”