Distrust of the media has grown exponentially over the past couple of years; many people refer to the media as being biased or spreading information that is inaccurate and unverified. This distrust has been extremely exacerbated by President Donald Trump. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2017, Trump said, “A few days ago, I called the fake news media the enemy of the people, and they are. They are the enemy of the people.”
“Fake news” has been a term circulated throughout the time that Trump has taken office. Prior to that, I certainly do not recall people using that term and, if they did, it was not nearly as frequently used as it is today. Heck, even when The Carroll News painted the Pacelli Lion last semester, our masterpiece was defaced with the words “fake news.” The term has tainted the way people view media and the role of journalists in America.
Although I cannot say that I disagree with Trump on all fronts, I do feel that the way he speaks, especially towards members of the media, is disrespectful. One of the biggest controversies as of late was with CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. While Acosta was asking questions at a press conference, Trump responded that he wanted to move on from Acosta to the next journalist because he was done answering Acosta’s questions. During this time, a female intern tried to take the microphone to give to another journalist and was swatted away by Acosta. He tried to continue his questioning of the president and Trump responded with, “That’s enough, put down the mic. CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person, and you shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
Following this Acosta’s “hard pass” into the White House was revoked. Acosta tweeted, “I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret Service just informed me I cannot enter the WH grounds for my 8pm hit.”
The next day Acosta sent out another tweet, “Don’t believe the lies coming from the WH. Believe in our freedoms. Thank you all for your support. We won’t back down.”
I will not say that I agree with Acosta continuously speaking over the president after he had said he wanted to move forward. Yet, from the perspective of a journalist I completely feel the frustration of not being able to get important questions answered and being treated in a rude way for doing your job.
This one example, on a national scale, displays how difficult it is for journalists to do their jobs and the backlash they have to face while reporting. However, these types of situations arise all too often for journalists at all levels.
As an intern at cleveland.com, I observe my coworkers preparing stories, talking to sources and getting information. One story that I knew was going to be incredible was written by Seth Richardson, a well-respected political reporter. His story focused on discord within the Ohio Democratic Party and how this strife could possibly lead to change in leadership of the party. When the story was posted, Richardson immediately received negative comments about his reporting.
A tweet by Lessa Brown stated, “Speaking as a former flack: I’ve seen few if any hit pieces like this allowed to get through editing w so many unnamed sources who are cowardly, manipulative, divisive, mean-spirited and attempting to escape responsibility. You’ve been used.” Although Richardson had used various unnamed sources in the story, both he and his editor knew that these sources were very reputable and credible, making them both comfortable to publish the story without revealing the identities of those being quoted.
Another example of a reporter who faces hardships in the industry is Julie Hullett, a recent JCU grad, former Managing Editor and a good friend of mine. She began her journey as a professional journalist a few months ago and shared her thoughts with me, “The learning curve has definitely been steep. I came out of college thinking that I was very experienced and knew how to be a journalist but the real world is different, and I am learning something new every day. Whether it’s working my way through complicated legislation or fighting for my right to listen to a public meeting, being a young journalist is difficult but exciting.”
Although the media has taken on a negative connotation over the years, I will stand by my fellow journalists and continue to be proud of the hard work and dedication we bring to our publications. Am I willing to say that there aren’t any news organizations spreading falsehoods and tricking the public? No. What I am saying is that there are plenty more news organizations and journalists who work extremely hard to expose the truth and help get information out into the world.
As a student journalist, I look forward to the days where I will be out in the world reporting on real issues facing America.