Freedom of the Press is Essential, but Messy

[Freedom of the Press Belongs to Those Who Own One] 
Saturday’s Post Register article clearly crossed the line between news and opinion.  I want to give you my perspective, not on the how, but on the why.

First, I have believed Cory and Roger to be men of conscience but still subject to their own biases.  Unfortunately, a person’s bias (me included) is rarely self-evident.  I believe they see the press as a check on state power – ensuring the survival of a free society.  I whole-heartedly agree.  As bad a job as the news media may do at times, they really are essential.  Fortunately for Idaho Falls, the Post Register usually does a fine job, but sometimes stumbles just like the rest of us.
In addition to natural biases there is a business model that underlies editorials.  They will likely deny this, but I think it’s pretty apparent.  If my information is current, letters to the editor (and obituaries) are some of the most read portions of the newspaper.  Editorials are not as widely read.  The business purpose of the paper’s editorials is to create public discussion through letters to the editor.  If they are successful, more letters strengthens readership.  They want lively discussion and they want it inside their playground.
In their efforts to generate public debate on police shootings, I’ve noticed there has not been a single letter to the editor, though I anticipate there will be a few.  I suspect the Post Register’s recent article will likely be followed by another editorial or two mixed with other “news” articles as they continue to try to evoke a public response.
The police are doing an awesome job and I know the large majority of the population is behind us.  Even former arrestees come to our aid when we’re in trouble.  This is a tribute to the fact that we’re treating the bad guys’ right (which makes it safer for the next officer’s encounter).
It’s not surprising that police, military, firemen, and teachers are always rated near the top for being trusted, while politicians, journalists, and attorneys are rated near the bottom.
When I set aside my emotions, I think the Post Register generally believes they are acting in the public good, but this recent article has strained that belief.
By the way, try to cut some slack to the retired-30-years officers.  How many of us aren’t guilty of occasionally armchair-quarterbacking things we really know nothing about?