SANTA FE - Journalists are on the forefront of protecting democracy, which is why great efforts are made to discredit them, David Smith, Washington Bureau Chief for the Guardian, reported in his coverage of attacks on journalists covering protests across the nation..

This comes at a time when public trust in the media has increasingly eroded. Trusting News, a nonprofit organization that focuses on transparency and trust in the news industry, reported that six in 10 Americans have “not very much” trust or “none at all” in news media, citing a 2018 Gallup poll. 

 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reported that arrests of reporters and attacks on journalists sharply increased in 2020. More than 80% of the 400 assaults on journalists during 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests were from law enforcement.

The RCFP reported over 438 physical attacks on journalists that year. That’s more than three times the number of attacks reported for the past three years combined, according to RCFP. The organization said journalists were charged or arrested 139 times, 15 times the number in 2019.

Babbette Herrmann, president of the New Mexico Press Association Board of Directors said it is more important than ever for journalism to thrive and hold public officials accountable.

“We see something, we say something,” said Babbette Herrmann, president of the New Mexico Press Association Board of Directors. “That’s how we protect democracy.”

“The best way to protect democracy is to protect the community,” says Nickolas Siebel from the Silver City Daily Press and Independent. “The best thing journalism can do is what we’ve always done: to cover our communities, to connect people, to tell their stories. Strong newspapers mean strong communities and vice versa.”

The Knight Foundation’s 2020 American Views Survey found that those surveyed found “continued pessimism and further partisan entrenchment about how the news media delivers on its democratic mandate to deliver factual, trustworthy information.”

Despite this, the survey found that 42% of those surveyed found news media to be “critical” to democracy, while 39% labeled news media as “very important” to democracy.

Follow Brandon Carroll on Twitter @Brandon72667231.