I don’t believe anyone who signs up to be a reporter has a death wish or purposely puts himself in danger. But, all journalists know that sometimes the job entails risks, especially when the reporter and the news outlet are equally committed to exposing corruption. According to the Santa Fe NewMexican, those risks come home to roost at just such a newspaper Saturday at the weekly Rio Grande SUN in Española, N.M.
The SUN, founded by Robert E. and Ruth Trapp in the 1950s, was just that kind of newspaper. The accolades for the SUN spanned the gamut — statewide to international — the under the founders’ leadership prevailed in more than 15 lawsuits to keep government open. I am proud to say I worked for Bob in the early 21st Century. We lost Ruth and Bob last year, but their son, Robert B. Trapp has carried on his parents’ tradition of fearless journalism.
The list of suspects of the attempted arson in Española could be a long one and the city officials and local police there could be on that list. I hope that other law enforcement officials in New Mexico recognize that fact and enlist the aid of more competent and a less tainted constabulary — perhaps even the FBI.
Still, the message should be clear to anyone who follows the news business and clear to those who want to see the Fourth Estate carry out its true mission of keeping powerful institutions accountable. Those who work hard to bring you the facts are sometimes at personal risk. It’s something readers and viewers should appreciate.