Within the last few weeks, the journalism industry has seen numerous layoffs and a good deal of general criticism. Buzzfeed cut 15 percent of its employees, eliminating its entire national security desk. Vice Media cut 250 of its employees and the Huffington Post’s entire opinions section is gone. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to comment on a New York Post headline, saying fake news and “bad journalism” are to blame for this influx of misfortune.
Freedom of the press is one of the basic principles of our constitution. Our media has a responsibility to the people to investigate and report on our government and to share that information with the general public. It’s a platform where people can freely exchange opinions and information as well as engage in conversation. Journalists take their job seriously and routinely risk their lives to produce work that benefits the American people.
Trump openly referring to media outlets as the creators of fake news is harming the reputation of journalists and creating mistrust between the public and the press. Journalists are not the enemy of the people. They are a crucial part of our functioning democracy, regardless of where you stand politically.
The lack of respect and trust we see between the public, our government and our media is adding to our already divisive social climate. Trusting journalists to hold powerful figures accountable, as well as themselves and colleagues, helps mend that divide and encourages open conversation from all parties. Restricting the access of the press and perpetuating the idea of “fake news” does nothing to help combat the issue of faulty reporting.
It would not be fair to say that Trump denounces all media. When asked by the New York Times about what he thinks the role of the press is, he responded, “It should describe what’s accurately going on in anywhere it’s covering, whether it’s a nation or a state. … If it describes it accurately and fairly, it’s a very very important and beautiful thing.” We all can agree that accurate press is good press. We have to also remember that bad press can be accurate, too.
Journalists should be supported and respected. The work they do is not to persuade and manipulate, but to serve and inform the people. The press encourages us to ask important questions and be vigilant citizens of the world around us. The dismissal of journalism creates more debates around the legitimacy of news sources, instead of focusing on the news that is being reported.
Journalism is an integral part of our society. It helps us function and communicate cohesively, while shedding light on issues that may otherwise get swept under the rug. Despite the constant social and political debates that our country divides itself on there is one thing that we all must agree on — America needs its journalists.