Journalists are not the enemy

President Trump’s hatred of journalism does nothing but incite mistrust and promote ignorance.

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

Photo by Can Stock Photo

Journalists have been under fire since the election of President Donald Trump.

It is our duty, as journalists, to provide the public with honest, ethical and well-sourced information. It is our duty to share our discoveries, expose wrongdoings and keep the public as up-to-date as possible.

Over these past few years, however, our mission has become increasingly harrowing. How do we navigate the preservation of our First Amendment right, when the very man who is supposed to protect it, is it’s strongest adversary?


This is what President Donald Trump has referred to journalists and their work as multiple times via Twitter during his presidency. He has accused some of our most prominent journalistic news sources — like The New York Times and The Washington Post — of peddling “fake news,” time and time again.

He’s wrong. When a journalist writes a story, it is vetted by editor after editor. All sources are checked for credibility, and all claims are backed with evidence. I’m not trying to say there’s never been a “fake news” story written by some desperate “journalist,” but this certainly does not happen at institutions like the Times or the Post.

Journalists are trained to be neutral (excluding Op/Ed articles). If a story seems biased one way or the other, it is because the source expressed a biased opinion, and that opinion was quoted by the journalist — not because the journalist believed in it, but because it is also their duty to honestly report the views of the people.

So why does our president so often cry “fake news” in response to different stories? Well, the answer is simple: he doesn’t like to be called out. As George Orwell said, “journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed.” The more strongly Trump denies a big story about himself, the more accurate I know that story to be.

While I understand all of this to be true, many of Trump’s most dedicated supporters still believe otherwise. In fact, reports have shown just how impactful Trump’s views have been, not only on his own supporters, but on other leaders around the world, as well.

According to a 2018 article from The Guardian, a report has shown that threats and violence against journalists have risen to an all-time high, with 78 journalists being killed the previous year while doing their job.

“Hostility towards the media is becoming normalized around the world, amid a proliferation of ‘strongman’ populist leaders who have echoed the language of the U.S. president and vilified journalists for simply doing their jobs,” said the article. “Donald Trump has made a habit of demonizing reporters as ‘nasty’ and ‘terrible,’ damning mainstream outlets as purveyors of fake news. In October, he praised a fellow Republican for body-slamming a Guardian reporter.”

According to Article 19, a human rights organization, even local “communicators” from smaller, marginalized communities have been killed for simply “uncovering the wrongdoing of governments and other vested interest groups.”

I believe in journalism.

I believe in its goals and its mission. I look forward to someday traveling the world and keeping the public informed on big and important issues. Assuming I get into the area of journalism I strive for, I understand that, at times, I might find myself in dangerous situations. But I hate to think some of those dangerous situations might be inspired by my own president, a person who is supposed to protect my rights and freedoms.

While some might view Trump’s tweets and outlandish claims to be silly and harmless, there is clear proof that his words do have a ripple effect throughout the U.S. and around the world. He insights ignorance and violence. He makes it difficult for journalists, including myself and the amazing people I work with, to tell the whole truth without fear of retribution.

We are not the enemy. We’re just trying to do our jobs.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected]