The Gazette joins this week with hundreds of other newspapers nationwide in outrage over President Trump’s unprecedented vilification of the press.

As an independent paper that for one hundred and seventy two years has devoted itself solely to the interests of Dukes County and its inhabitants, the Gazette might dismiss his tweets as directed largely at the Washington press corps were it not for the damage he has done to the credibility of the profession overall.

Criticism of news coverage has long been a popular sport, here and elsewhere, and journalists are easy targets. By profession, and typically by inclination, they are nosy and persistent. To summarize information, they make quick judgments of what is important. And their work is, by definition, out there for all to see and dissect.

But “the enemy of the people?” Hardly.

In most of our communities, reporters are more accurately the representatives of the people, at times the only ones present at meetings of government bodies where important decisions are made.

Every week all year long, the men and women who make up the Gazette’s news staff do the tedious and unremarkable work of combing court dockets and real estate records, scanning planning board agendas and sitting through lengthy meetings of selectmen, school committees and regional commissions, checking and reporting on the Island’s vital signs.

Like routine medical care, community journalism creates a baseline of information that aids in the detection of deeper issues, and at its best, serves to prevent problems from developing. When the Gazette breaks a story, it is based on an intimate knowledge of the Island, its citizens and its institutions that has been built from the ground up.

At the Gazette, reporters and editors are easy to find — by phone or email, at the grocery store or at the next selectmen’s meeting — and corrections are made when warranted. Readers are welcome to express their differing views through letters, commentaries or comments on

But imperfect as it may be, the very act of seeking and reporting information serves as a check on those who would misuse power. To deliberately undermine trust in the entirety of the news media should itself send up a red flag.

Social scientists suggest that people are more easily rallied against a common enemy than motivated to act in the common good. President Trump’s efforts to cast the media as the adversary may be clever politics, but it is corrosive to our strength as a nation.