Editor’s letter: Life without the First Amendment would be scary


Kamrin Baker

Image of a blonde woman with sketches of Wonder Woman on her body
Kamrin Baker is the Editor-in-Chief of the Gateway Newspaper. To contact her, email editorinchief@unothegateway.com. Graphic by Mars Nevada/the Gateway

Happy fall to all the ghouls and ghosts out there! We wanted to do a fun special issue at the Gateway this year (similar to our past April Fools editions, except, without the fake—erm, satirical—news), so welcome to our first-ever Halloween edition!

While you’ll still spot our usual reporting, flip through the pages of this issue to find some spooky, silly stories about fall and Halloween. I adore the fun theme of this issue, and I felt it appropriate to use this platform to, yes, introduce this special issue, but also shed some light on something that truly makes my skin creep and crawl, something so terrifying they wouldn’t even dare to talk about it at Scary Acres: life without a free press.

I could write an entire edition of the paper on this one topic alone, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that the press is under attack. While we cannot blame the United States’ current administration alone for this fact, it certainly doesn’t help having a president who calls the press “the enemy of the people.” Out of 180 countries, the United States is ranked as 48 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders—and that is with a well-functioning First Amendment, unlike other nations.

This means that while, yes, we are privileged to have the protections that we do, the United States is still not a safe place to practice journalism. It is an environment where reporters face constant pushback, threats of violence, attempted violence—and even death. Our inalienable rights are protected under the First Amendment—to pursue honest journalism, among freedoms to speech, protest and religion, but that does not mean we, as a people, are free from harm.

William Cobbett once wrote on the suppression of the press: ”Punish men for writing plainly, and they will have recourse to metaphor or fable; punish them for that, and they will talk; punish them for that, and they will whisper.”

As a little food for thought entering the holiday season where we often look to celebrate the strange, give thanks and share gifts, take a moment to mindfully flip through the pages of your free, independent student newspaper and know that our voice—your voice—will be heard loud and clear—like a witch’s cackle in the night.

Happy reading, happy free expression—and Happy Halloween!