“…the enemy of the American people!”, says President Donald Trump of American journalists. It’s bizarre to think the only profession protected by the Constitution of the United States is being labeled as a complete sham by the man who’s job it is to support and protect it. I chose to focus on the topic of journalists being under harsh scrutiny by the American people because there’s an influx in readers questioning news sources’ credibility due to Trump’s remarks. According to our nation’s leader, the press is now considered Public Enemy No. 1 in our society.
Donald Trump is demonstrating an authoritarian attitude and inclination that shows no understanding of the role of the free press.
– Carl Bernstein, former Washington Post reporter that uncovered the Watergate scandal
So how did this happen?
A lot of people believe the country’s tension with journalists only began with the 2016 presidential election but it’s not true. There has always been an existing imbalance in the relationship between the public and press. But now since we live in such a connected world, anyone has the opportunity to create a message and share it instantly. It’s easier to have a bigger audience with the ability to spread news globally. President Trump has utilized social media, specifically Twitter, for a more efficient way of sharing his thoughts. And it’s a constant theme to see him criticize the media when his character or actions are questioned.
He took it a step further when he tweeted this video of him in a WWE match beating up a person but this time it has a CNN logo on their head, calling the media company “Fraud News” in the caption. His tweets turned towards spreading a message of violence against journalists.
A month later he retweeted this image of a person being hit by a train with the CNN logo on them so it can easily be interpreted as him physically taking out a CNN reporter. Not only was he using his Twitter account to call out his so-called enemies, his campaign team released an ad implying that politicians and journalists were trying to get in his way of making America better.
His message to the American people is to not put their trust the media or other politicians because they allegedly have an agenda to ruin Trump’s plans for the country.
What journalists are experiencing this criticism?
Sadly, the answer is all of them, old and young. President Trump has spared almost no person of the press in his tirade on journalism.
This video produced by CollegeHumor is a satirical piece that sheds light on what “fake news” reporters would do in a newsroom if their paper released nothing but falsified information. But this is what some people think actually happens in a real life news setting nowadays by these media outlets the president claims to be “fake”.
Even a real-life poll on members of political parties trusting information given in news reports is still relatively low in percentages.
Source: Pew Research Center
So what can be done to fix it?
One of the biggest concerns is taking care of young journalists in this anti-press era, especially those in college who are trying to test their skills in the real world before they graduate and get jobs. Is there a way to make it easier on them when they’re trying to interview the public or notable sources?
I think educating people to check sources, published dates and quotes in a news report would help get rid of a lot of confusion. I’ve learned in journalism courses how crucial it is as a reporter to fact check before you report. It’s the same thing for a reader to look into who’s reporting what information because anyone can be a writer on the internet.
– Josee Matela, Boston University College of Communication Ambassador & Journalism student
Another place for young journalists to look for news checking resources is at The News Literacy Project. The educational non-profit organization has a mission to educate middle school and high school students in navigating media information found online.
In the video below, Google announces its plans to clean up “fake news” with a $300 million investment to support journalism over the next 3 years.
There are three specific goals of the Google News Initiative: highlight accurate journalism while fighting misinformation, particularly during breaking news events; help news sites continue to grow from a business perspective; and create new tools to help journalists do their jobs.
– Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge
Overall, I believe in the efforts being made to support journalism and get rid of false information that gives reporters a bad reputation among the public. The best place to start is by educating the youth on how to spot news that lacks authenticity or credibility and avoid sharing it on social media. Journalists have a new sense of anxiety in this world now due to people like Trump that use their power online to send anger-driven messages directed towards them, the ones whose job it is to make people knowledgeable of the truth. Just like the leader of our country often tweets… SAD!