In a recent off-camera press briefing held in the office of White House press secretary Sean Spicer, multiple news outlets were barred from sending representatives to sit in and report on the conversation, causing concern nationwide. The controversy surrounding Trump’s relationship with the press has been unprecedented and very public. President Trump has not minced words, describing Buzzfeed as a “failing pile of garbage” while on the campaign trail and declaring facts being reported by reputable sources “fake news.” By declaring the media as the enemy of the people, President Trump created even further anxiety in consideration of the First Amendment. These declarations regarding those who challenge him take away from what is truly important–the reporting–and shift the focus to the personal vendetta Trump had against those who disagree with him.
It is not the job of the President to dictate what the media is saying in regards to his administration, nor should the media have to spend their time defending the accuracy of their facts. The work of a journalist is to report the news and share information with the world, something incredibly valued both in our nation and internationally. In a world full of breaking news and constant change, people need to be able to count on what they read, and not have to worry about what is true or not. The Trump Administration has essentially created a war on journalism, dismissing the work of journalists nationwide on the basis that they don’t like what’s being said, putting the notion of free speech in jeopardy. By discrediting reputable sources, such as The New York Times, the truth that exists within their reporting becomes discredited as well. This leaves many American citizens floundering in search of information that is reliable and true.
When the idea of “alternative facts” comes into play, truth and fiction become muddled together among accusations of falsehoods. The ability to distinguish one from the other when living in such a hectic world has become increasingly difficult, and it should not have to be up to the American people to do so. Opinion and fact are two very separate things, and when the line between the two becomes blurred, problems begin to occur. In order for journalism in our country to continue to succeed, the line must become redefined. Citizens should not have to consider making a distinction between truth versus fiction when listening to a speech by the President. By creating an America in which fact and fiction are are indiscernible, journalism becomes obsolete. Newspaper articles are not reality television scripts and should not be treated as such. Misinformation needs to stop being spread by governmental officials, as it is only harmful to those who believe it.
The truth within journalism needs to be protected, whether or not it makes someone look good. Fact needs to remain fact and not be accepted as “fake news.” While, of course, we should critically question and acknowledge where our sources and information are truly coming from, we must not discount honest journalists and news outlets. In a world where the means of how we share and learn about information is exceedingly important, we must be wise. The petty arguments based on complaints and partisan opinions need to end in order for the reporting to begin again.
Graphics: Jessica Chang