It is no secret that President Trump has a disdain for the press. Very early in his presidency, he tweeted that the press is the “Enemy of the American people.” Since that tweet, he has repeatedly pointed at news sites and journalists and called them liars.
The president’s feelings toward the press have unsurprisingly spread to his followers.
A hatred and distrust of the media has become one of the cornerstones of President Trump’s rallies around the country. The term “fake news” has become as inseparable to the Trump movement as “build the wall.”
Long before the Trump era of turning the people against the press, journalism has been one of the most thankless professions. As far back as the 1800s, journalists were challenged to violent duels over stories the public didn’t like. Today, duels take place in the comment sections on Facebook but are often just as visceral. Some people see journalists as news-hungry hyenas, waiting in the shadows to feast on the weak. Ripping apart a carcass for every scrap of news. Journalists have always been seen as a bit conniving and too eager for a scoop, but now they are perceived as being liars.
You can’t call all news you don’t agree with “fake.” The problem with the “fake news” phenomena is how flippantly the phrase is thrown around. President Trump only has to utter the phrase “fake news” one time and his supporters instantly believe him over people who are trained by trade to report the facts.
Whether the president is a fan of the media or not, the people still have a right to know what’s going on. They still deserve unbiased, factual reporting of events happening in their country. America’s hatred of the press is like a body rejecting its own organ. Freedom of the press is as essential to a democratic society as a lung is to a human body. Any leader who tries to silence the press should be met with widespread skepticism. A challenge of the press is a challenge to the First Amendment.
So why would I still pursue a career where I’ll be challenged, ridiculed, and accused of being a liar? Because I believe in the power of words and stories. I was the little kid who kept asking, “but why, mom?” to get to the bottom of every question I had about the world. Which, at five years old, was mostly me asking, “But why don’t unicorns exist?” Now, as an aspiring journalist, I want to get to the bottom of questions that really matter to the people of the United States.
I want to find answers to questions that couldn’t be answered in just a single career path. I’d like to interview marine biologists on the latest species of coral they discover. I want to talk to political figures before election time and find out what it’s like to face that much pressure. I hope to be a voice for people in my community who need a vessel to share their stories. From the elderly woman who finally opened the bakery she always wanted, to the victims of human trafficking who can’t speak up for themselves.
Media matters. Stories have the ability to dramatically shift the public’s perception of a person, place or thing. The press exists to serve the governed, not the governors. I’m studying journalism in grad school so that I can learn the art of factual storytelling even better. Journalists are inquisitive people who have dedicated their lives to telling other people’s stories. In the year 2018, I am both proud and frightened to be one.