Journalists are not the ‘enemy of the people’

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Journalists are not the ‘enemy of the people’

Matt Troher, Editor-in-Chief

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“The enemy of the people”. These are the words that President Donald Trump uttered on June 28 during a campaign rally while describing journalists. Three days later, five journalists were killed during a mass shooting that took place at the Capital Gazette building in Annapolis, Maryland.

Two days before the shooting, right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos told the news website Observer, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight”.

What might be seen by some as light criticism against today’s journalistic fervor, is, in fact, harmful speech spearheaded by our nation’s leader. Anti-journalistic sentiment in the United States is undoubtedly reaching a fever pitch, and unfortunately, it has striking real-world consequences.

In 2018 alone, 36 journalists in the United States alone have been physically attacked while on the job, not to mention the seemingly endless levels of online abuse journalists have to endure.

Regardless of one’s views on Trump’s ideals as a whole, his views towards the media are morally abhorrent at best, and at worst, nearly reaching levels of hate speech.

Empowered by Trump’s words, Walmart sold plain black t-shirts with bold red and white lettering stating the phrase “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required”. It wasn’t until after an online firestorm erupted that the company pulled the shirt from its website.

The fact a Fortune 500 company can sell apparel jesting at the lynching of journalists (whose jobs are legally protected by the constitution I might add) with minimal blowback, is quite frankly terrifying.

Journalists are the often unsung heroes of society. We have stressful work, we run on deadlines, and often times we barely get paid a living wage. Oh, and everyone hates us.

In today’s increasingly digital age, where news stories can be written by bots and shared at the click of a button, media literacy should be required in schools. It should be general knowledge which news outlets are reputable as opposed to inflammatory.

Now, let’s get some things straight. First, ‘alternative facts’ don’t exist. They’re called facts. Second, calling anything and everything you don’t agree with ‘fake news’ is not just annoying, but also contributes an ever-growing echo chamber of one group’s beliefs.

Journalism exists for a reason – to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best decisions possible about their lives, jobs, and government.