The Prospector

The enemy of the people

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The Prospector staff.

The Prospector staff.

The Prospector staff.

Jake Deven, Entertainment Editor

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The Founding Fathers understood the importance of a free press and its importance to a sovereign republic. They recognized that without a free press there could be no accountability and a government without accountability is the exact opposite of a democracy.

President Trump and his supporters hate the media for those exact reasons: journalists shine a light on the government, corporations and its leaders. And, for many reasons, shining a light on the inside is a major threat to the man in the White House, a man who has lived his entire life free from accountability.

Today, The Prospector joins more than 200 newspapers throughout the nation in a coordinated response to Trump’s attempts to discredit journalists and independent news gathering and his efforts to falsely brand the nation’s news media as “the enemy of the American people” to avoid accountability for his actions.

What I, as a journalist, find disconcerting is how much of the president’s supporters and a growing number of politicians have adopted the same resentment towards journalists. Trump calls journalists “the enemy of the American people,” amongst other negative phrases and pejoratives. Some of the worst tyrannical leaders of the 20th and 21st century have expressed similar sentiments when they wanted to discredit their detractors.

Who else will join? And how much worse is it going to get?

As a student who is currently learning what it means to be a journalist, it’s scary to witness all the anti-press rhetoric coming out of the White House. As it is, newspapers, magazines and even online publications are struggling to keep afloat in this digital age.

There are many publications and TV stations that many students would love to work for one day. Not knowing if these very institutions that students like myself are striving toward will even be around — let alone still be respected — is a depressing thought.

Today, most of the journalists — whether mainstream or independent — were not in school when Trump won the presidency. They were inspired and motivated to become journalists in a time when their idols, colleagues and future employers were not threatened and accused by the most powerful man in the country.

It’s almost heartbreaking for a student to hear that the career they chose to pursue employs those that are considered to be enemies of the American people.

Still, a president criticizing the press is nothing new, even Obama did it. Even though people have become accustomed to Trump’s insults, its become increasingly difficult to recognize how serious these attacks are today. At one point, it will be too late before Americans realize that insults like these actually matter — especially for those of us that are entering the industry.

The heart and soul of the media in this country is not the White House press corps or big city daily newspapers like the New York Times. It’s also not national networks or the partisan websites. The lifeblood of journalism is in the thousands of community newspapers, magazines, local radio, TV stations and online publications.

There are tens of thousands of journalists who care about their communities and the work they produce for them. They work hard, with little pay and no job security. They do not deserve threats to their life, nor should they have to live in fear of doing their job.

The problem is that Americans have allowed opinions of national media, such as CNN and Fox News, to seep into their view of local media, and this is inaccurate and unfair in both cases; it detracts from the important role that local newspapers play in their communities.

For example, local newspaper reporters are not thinking of tweets from the president when they report on the details of a city hall meeting. Local newspaper reporters are not worried about Hillary Clinton when they cover a local school district’s scandal.

By labeling journalists and the reporting, they do as “fake news” the president is trying to discredit and undermine pertinent information this country relies on to stay informed. People need to know what their government is doing and who is running it; this goes for national, state and local.

So, before anyone decides to label the free press as an enemy of the people, they should look back on societies who used this type of speech and see where it got them. And remember that there are students learning this profession that just want to tell honest stories like those who inspired them.

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Assayer of Student Opinion.
The enemy of the people