Those of us who are worried about the man who is taking office Friday may be tempted to shun the news. We are sickened by president-elect Donald J. Trump’s response to Rep. John Lewis, Democrat from Georgia, who is a famed civil rights leader.

“All talk, no action,” Donald Trump tweeted about the man who attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Bloody Sunday in 1965.

Really? It’s bad enough Trump is making a mockery of himself with his petulant tweets, but he can’t even deliver a decent jab. Meryl Streep is overrated? Really?

But no matter how annoying, disgusting and downright crazy Trump and his people get, we mustn’t turn away. We need to stay informed. We need to know there are others out there who feel the same way we do. And we need to support the people who work hard to bring us the truth.

The media often are described as the “Fourth Estate,” a term coined by British statesman Edmund Burke in the 19th century. According to “Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia,” he said the press was more powerful than the other three estates (nobility, clergy and common people) combined. This is because journalists stand within the halls of power as outsiders. They report the truth and, yes, look for problems in the way our leaders operate. That’s their job.

“The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816. “There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves, nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.” I’m sure he would agree today that women need to be reading as well. Given the number of women planning to march in Washington this week, they are.

Newspapers, in particular, have brought to light major issues such as the Watergate affair (The Washington Post) and the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal (The Boston Globe). The coverage of those stories changed the way people thought, felt and acted. A president and a cardinal were forced out of their offices.

We, as citizens, have an obligation to stay informed. Even looking at editorial cartoons can be enlightening, such as the one by David Horsey showing Russian-style onion domes rising from the White House roof. Doesn’t that say it all about Trump’s enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin?

Although I am lucky to have many friends and colleagues who share my views, I also feel comforted when I read national columnists who lean left. For example, on Monday, Richard Cohen, writer for The Washington Post, opined that “Trump’s Presidency is Doomed.” He compared Trump to President Lyndon B. Johnson — “two big, fleshy men given to vulgarities and gauche behavior, boastful, thin-skinned, politically amoral, vengeful, unforgiving and, most important, considered illegitimate presidents.” I am old enough to remember LBJ as president, and how he was unable to run for a second full term because his popularity had sunk like a stone. A boulder. He might have had more support for his policies if he had been more likable. Look what Bill Clinton got away with.

Finally, it is vitally important right now to support a free press, which, ironically, can’t be free if nobody pays for it. It’s no secret that newspaper circulation and revenue have been sinking over the last decade or more. People like reading online, and when they can do so without a subscription, all the better. I like free stuff just as much as the next person, but I also refuse to write without pay.

I hope other liberals and progressives — and conservatives! — will realize how important it is to pay for valid, in-depth, honest and brave news coverage. The Cony High School library, which I supervise, has two subscriptions to the Kennebec Journal through the Newspapers in Education program. Not only are these — and the online version — available to students and staff to read, but we clip items for our scrapbooks. This is a tradition that has gone on since the early 20th century. We have quite a collection. Quite a history.

My husband, Paul (a former Portland Press Herald reporter), and I have a subscription to The Wall Street Journal online and are enjoying a free trial of The Washington Post through Amazon Prime. (Both the Post and Amazon are owned by Jeff Bezos.) We will pay for a subscription when the trial expires.

I need my columnists. I need my news. No sleeping on my watch.

There’s too much at stake.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at [email protected]

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