The enemy of the people

I’ve been a journalist for a relatively short portion of my life, however, it has been a part of some of my most meaningful moments and decisions.

It has shown me how to open up to people. I was painfully shy and, quite frankly, unhappy before I joined the newspaper staff. What I didn’t expect was that interviewing for stories, which I was terrified of, made me much more comfortable talking to people. I started to value the quality of the story over my anxiety. Over time, I became much more confident in my writing as well as myself.
I had always liked to write, but I never considered writing journalistically. However, through a chain of chance events, something I was good at became a passion. I fell in love with storytelling and informing people of important issues.

I and other journalists are extremely proud of our work, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take constructive criticism. But when that criticism becomes destructive, it’s insulting. I feel disrespected to hear the leaders of the free world calling journalists the “enemy of the people.”

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical of the press’ integrity before I became the press. But we are not the enemy of the people — I am part of a larger system that keeps the people informed on everything from the latest political issue to the pet adoption at a local animal shelter. Being a journalist is putting the truth above all else. It’s calling out those who need to be called out. It’s an integral part of the system of checks and balances.

There is no free world without a free press.

Unfortunately, some media is still biased. News outlets like Fox and CNN set terrible examples for aspiring journalists and do not accurately represent what we do. However, it is not okay for the country’s leaders to demean us.

Some might be skeptical that’s what the intention is, however, President Trump flat out admitted it. While doing an interview for CBS, the president told reporter Lesley Stahl, “I do it to discredit you all, and demean you all, so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

But the blame doesn’t completely fall on the president’s shoulders. Last October, Trump stood before supporters and praised Montana senator Greg Gianforte for assaulting a reporter shortly before the state’s election. The senator plead guilty to assault.

Against a backdrop of an unfolding crisis over a missing Washington Post reporter who was likely killed by the Saudi Arabian government, President Trump went before a crowd that cheered at the mention of senator Gianforte’s actions. It deeply saddens me that we live in a world where politicians don’t respect the people keeping it informed.

While I have written few political stories, I told the story of a Vegas shooting survivor, a sexual harassment victim and how a local nonprofit organization helps underprivileged women. High school publications don’t cover much political news, yet I still feel continually dragged into this realm. My passion is under fire and so is this country’s future.

Encouraging a healthy amount of skepticism towards the media is perfectly fine, because journalists are human and make mistakes.

However, publicly humiliating and disrespecting journalists is not okay, it is not professional and it is certainly no way to represent our country.

Some countries where internet access is limited to silence the press include North Korea, China and Cuba — nations that Americans typically think of as highly oppressive. All three countries share one commonality — their lack of freedom and no free press.

Americans typically consider themselves better than these countries and even take pity on them because of how oppressed their people are. Freedom is an ideal Americans deeply pride themselves on, however, I am extremely concerned that the nation is adopting the values of countries governed by dictators.

If the United States doesn’t reverse course soon, this freedom Americans love so much will begin to slowly but surely deteriorate.