As more than 300 newspapers across the country write editorials in defense of freedom of the press today, we celebrate the fact we cover the news in relative freedom, an atmosphere of cooperation and one where we don't feel we'll be banned from events because of our questions.
Don't get us wrong. We stand in unity with the Boston Globe. We stand with those newspapers slamming the attacks from the Trump administration, attacks which are unwarranted assaults when the president should be targeting his ire to far left and far right media which distort the truth, write opinion pieces disguised as news stories and often simply lie to bolster their readers' already entrenched political beliefs.
We respect what they are doing and why they are doing it. As the slogan below the masthead of the Washington Post says: Democracy dies in darkness.
Fortunately, we don't have to live every day in the quagmire of the Trump administration's vicious attacks on the press and seeing reporters banned from events simply because they asked a question the president didn't like.
We don't have to live in that nightmare day in and day out so we simply stand with the more than 300 newspapers who are writing those editorials today.
We generally have access to sources. The availability of agenda packets are usually announced way ahead of meetings.
Roanoke Rapids City Council hands them out. The Halifax County Board of Commissioners have their entire agenda package available online which is very handy when having to write about complicated issues.
Speaking only to our news website, we are treated fairly, our calls for follow-up questions are typically returned in a timely fashion and documents we request are generally given to us unless there are compelling reasons they can't be.
While our police sources generally don't go into sordid details of cases, sometimes to our chagrin, we have built up trust over the years to where we can get off-the-record details on cases so we won't be surprised when a case makes its way through the court system. Believe us, our sources know off-the-record is sacred with us.
We make use of the documents filed at the clerk of court office and use of PACER — Public Access to Court Electronic Records — helped us wade through hundreds of documents in Operation Rockfish as well as other federal cases. The Securities and Exchange Commission website has helped us slip past the tight-lipped no comments when it comes to major corporate transactions here.
We will argue why certain search warrants are sealed, sometimes to a fault and lose our battles, but we don't go pouting after the rationale for sealing them is explained.
Like any media, we can be treated with suspicion, we can have allegations of bias thrown in our faces and obviously, as we have experienced in the past, we can be threatened.
Even in the toughest and harshest editorials we've written there is general civility between us and the subjects of those missives and we agree to disagree.
And even when we question the need for public bodies to go into closed sessions on certain matters, our arguments are heard. We've lost more of those arguments than we've won, but we will try.
That's why it's mainly a different world on the local level. We don't have a mayor or board of commissioners chairman who decries every little thing we write is fake news when they might not agree with what we say.
We feel we summed up our view on the national matter last year in a piece in which we gave our best explanation on what is and isn't fake news.
So while we in the local media have it relatively easy with our local sources, we can understand and feel the pain of our comrades who must face the torrent of abuse daily on the national level.
And while we are thankful we have this kind of relationship in most cases, we vehemently stand by the more than 300 newspapers across the country who are holding hands with the Boston Globe in writing editorials in defense of freedom of the press. We always will — Editor