“It’s an interesting time for journalists,” people typically say as I tell them my major. “Yeah, it is,” I respond in the most nonchalant way I can muster. But what really is the underlying message in the “interesting times” of which these people speak?
The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics says to seek truth and report it. “Ethical journalists should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.” You’re right on that one, SPJ.
Seeking out the truth is the journalist’s main priority — the truth for the people. “The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?” President Donald J. Trump tweeted March 30. A series of angry tweets pointed at journalists and the “fake news media” has flooded the Trump Twitter timeline, and it appears it isn’t stopping anytime soon.
“Changing libel laws won’t stop any press from committing acts of journalism because libel is libel and journalism is truth,” Gideon Grundo of the SPJ wrote in his response to the president’s tweet.
The thing about real, authentic news and “fake news” is one has been sought after and the other has been spun to suit the reader. “Fake news” is not a new trend, “fake news” about the president is. Couldn’t one declare tabloids and supposed celebrity scandals as fake news? Probably, but the president didn’t say it so nobody is up in arms over it.
Because POTUS takes to Twitter when headlines upset him, his supporters do the same, targeting the journalist as a criminal. The journalist is not the criminal in this situation.
In late February, several news outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times and Buzzfeed, were barred from a press briefing. In response, the Associated Press and Time decided not to attend. As Trump continues to call the media dishonest, the American people begin to distrust the journalist, making it an interesting time for journalists, indeed.
Journalists bridge the gap between the American people and the presidency. If certain outlets are barred from briefings, who are the people supposed to trust?
To be a journalist in a time in which half the country is against you and the other stands by you is the most important thing to be — a reporter of the truth. Instead of trying to ban the journalists, welcome them with open arms and present them with the truth. The First Amendment was put into place by the people and for the people, after all.