By Susan L. Cassidy
Northwest Asian Weekly
I never thought we would see a time like this in our country — a time where journalism and the press are under attack from the top down to the degree that it is today. Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I was too young when the world of journalism changed, when it stopped protecting the powers that be from themselves and allied itself with the truth, a shift led by Woodward and Bernstein.
Journalists have always been criticized and often hated by those in power. They are inconvenient.
But this feels different. This feels conspiratorial. This feels dangerous. There is a new blurring of fact and fiction, truth and lies, theater and reality, that should scare us all. It should scare us for our democracy.
We had a great many checks and balances in place that have been systematically dismantled since the new administration came into power. Not only are the rules being changed, they don’t seem to think there is any need for rules at all. The rules don’t matter, only personal power matters. And the person in power is dangerous.
Many readers of the Northwest Asian Weekly (NWAW) come from around the world. Many are not strangers to the dictatorships, regime upheaval, Communism, and more. They know trouble when they see it and they know that access to information is critical to democracy and freedom.
They know what dangers lay in the control and distortion of fact, information and truth. Those with any foundation in history understand the necessity of a free press.
Assunta Ng began the Seattle Chinese Post, Chinese edition, when she saw a need in the community for information beyond bulletin boards in central Chinatown. Since then, the NWAW was founded and it has grown. With that growth, the papers’ purpose has expanded. The papers have grown in its service to the community. They have become advocates for the community. But this does not mean that they are blind advocates. They make sure that the community has access to information it needs. And they report about the community, its members, and its leaders. No longer is the Asian and Asian American community of the Seattle area invisible. It has a voice. The NWAW serves its community through inclusion, the dissemination of facts and information, and factual representation to the greater community.
Now, more than ever, journalists must continue to do their jobs, with integrity and without wavering in conviction. Journalists must continue their quest for objectivity. They must continue to fully cover stories no matter the cost to themselves. Eventually, we hope to see an end to the unwarranted and unsubstantiated aspersions on this noble profession.
For our part, we journalists can never lose sight of the important work that we are doing. We must never fail to strive for fact and truth and objectivity. And we must refrain from participating in the circus and freak show in order to sell papers, or gain an audience. We must be faithful to the mission of accurate information about and for the readers. To obscure information for personal bias is to fail as a journalist. Failure is not an option when the mission is so important. It will require sacrifice. It requires commitment and hard work. It requires the expurgation of false journalists — those who are intent upon misleading the public and the propagation of a particular point of view are not true journalists. They are entertainers, and puppets, and con artists.
Serving as editor of the NWAW was my dream job before I knew it was my dream. Assunta Ng entrusted her dream to me and her community became mine. I will never again have a boss like Assunta. She never hesitated to support me in my service to the community. She gave me the freedom to grow the paper and participate as an activist.The establishment of the Seattle Chinese Post and NWAW has forever changed Seattle, and forever changed the Asian and Asian American community. She did it by providing information to people who needed it. And by giving them a voice. Assunta changed the world through the noble, treacherous, and difficult profession of journalism. I am proud to have played a small part in the change that she made.
Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.