The news media is under attack, on a national and local level.
The Trump administration declared war on the press less than 48 hours after the inauguration, with the new press secretary, Sean Spicer, all but calling journalists and news organizations liars when they reported about attendance at the inauguration.
Saturday, President Donald Trump speaking at the CIA said, "I have a running war with the media." He has demeaned and belittled journalists. He has ordered some government agencies to stop posting about certain topics and information on social media. Since the beginning of his campaign, he has tried to de-legitimize the press as a whole.
The lack of respect for the Fourth Estate is appalling. First Amendment advocates are nervous. The American Civil Liberties Union put out a statement vowing any threats to freedom of the press by the Trump White House would be met with a "vigorous defense" of the First Amendment.
The Pleasanton Weekly was also attacked last week, but in a more subtle manner.
At a City of Pleasanton Economic Vitality Committee meeting Jan. 19, Pleasanton school board trustee Jamie Hintzke encouraged a group of business people and community leaders to stop advertising in the Pleasanton Weekly.
Hintzke, who was just narrowly re-elected to the board in November, said our Jan. 13 editorial -- which asked the board for answers about the sudden and unexplained termination of the district's superintendent of six months -- was inflammatory, injurious to the community and written solely to incite trouble.
Within minutes of the meeting's adjournment, attendees were calling us to report that Hintzke "tried to kill the Weekly," as one person put it.
In an email response to our request for a comment, Hintzke said she "made a statement out of frustration about the Pleasanton Weekly and recent articles about the Board and District."
"These statements are in no way a reflection of the Pleasanton School Board's position and I truly apologize," she continued.
Hintzke wanted to assure us she did not suggest an advertising boycott, which would, in essence, be an attempt to staunch the lifeblood of the newspaper that is asking questions, seeking truth and trying to hold elected officials accountable.
She said at the end of the committee meeting she told Realtors in the group that if she were a Realtor she "would reconsider placing ad space in the Weekly."
Maybe it's just us, but we don't see the difference in intent.
Most news organizations -- including this one -- are businesses. In that way, we are very much like small businesses on Main Street in downtown.
But unlike most other small businesses, a newspaper is a public trust with a responsibility to ask tough questions, protect public interest and create public awareness. People feel the local newspaper belongs to them and that it is a right to have the coverage. But, at the end of the day, we still have bills to pay. Without our advertisers we would not exist.
It is no secret that the business model of newspapers has changed, and news organizations are and have been struggling financially for at least the past decade.
There is no substitute for local news, and there are costs associated with paying trained, professional journalists. When you add those costs to expenses such as printing and mailing, rent and salaries for support staff, the cost to run a community newspaper is substantial.
Indeed, loss of advertising dollars from "reconsidered ad space" would weaken or stop our coverage of important issues, like a ballot measure dividing a city, a local election, increased water rates or the abrupt and unexplained firing of a recently hired schools superintendent.
It would make life much easier for a handful of people if the Weekly would cease to exist.
Remember, though, that a strong and healthy press -- locally and nationally -- is imperative to the strength and health of a community and a country. Journalism comes at a price, but we believe citizens would pay a much higher price without it.