We are reminded of a photo taken shortly before the 2016 election. It was a picture of the back of a man’s shirt at a Donald Trump rally.

“Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required,” it read.

We know people sometimes get upset with media. There always will be news stories with which people disagree or feel uncomfortable. But do they really want us dead? Do they really believe President Trump’s attacks against the American press as “the enemy of the people”?

We watch as millions of us turn away from fact-based reporting and choose to get their “news” elsewhere, purely based on assumptions and what they were told to believe.

Or what they want to believe.

This is why the Kokomo Tribune today joins more than 100 U.S. newspapers in denouncing the president’s rhetoric against a free and independent press.

We are the watchdogs of governments, schools and crime. We spot falsehoods, notice trends and confirm corruption. We are trained and paid to do this.

We also are your neighbors. We attend the same churches, send our kids to the same schools and shop at the same businesses.

People who don’t even read this newspaper claim we are biased, liars and “fake news.” Yet we do this for you — our readers. We’ve done this since 1850, five years before the city of Kokomo was incorporated.

We were there with you through the Great Depression. We mourned with you when John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated and on Sept. 11, 2001. We celebrated together when the Colts brought the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis, and we shared your worries during contract negotiations for the city’s largest employers.

After 38-year-old Jarrod Warren Ramos shot up the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five on June 28, media companies were forced to examine employee safety and take seriously threats made against journalists in letters and emails and on Twitter and Facebook.

We had a Kokomo police officer in our plant for two weeks after such a threat this summer.

If a free press is to disappear, who will hold our elected officials accountable? Who will monitor new businesses, crime and community health? Who will be the voice for the voiceless?

Will you?

If you’re anything like us, you’d better be prepared to die trying.

Kokomo Tribune editorial board

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