We are not the enemy

Amid consistent and constant claims that the media is “fake,” journalistic integrity is more important than ever.

We are not the enemy

By Meghan Turley, Online Editor

The following Op-Ed is part of the national call from the Boston Globe for press across the country to react to the constant barrage of  claims that their work is fake news. The Paw’s Meghan Turley is glad to join over 350 publications across the country, both from liberal and conservative publications, to share her thoughts on the fundamental threat to journalistic integrity. 

It is nearly impossible to be on social media-Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and not see a mention of “fake news.” It is something teens throw around sarcastically when they disagree with each other, or something crazy aunts use to discredit their outspoken nieces and nephews.

Throughout his campaign and presidency, President Trump has frequently lashed out at the media using Twitter as a rapid-fire response to bad press about himself or his administration. Usually ended with the term  “fake news,” these tweets are aimed at his base, with the implied intention of instilling distrust in any media organization. Frequent targets of the claims include CNN and MSNBC. Trump, in early 2017 shortly after the election, called out the two, as well as ABC and NBC, for showing polls with negative reactions to his border control plan.

The results of the President’s consistent persistence is that any news that counters his opinion or values is potentially false. This is devastating because Americans don’t know what to believe.

The media is framed through his administration’s reign as the enemy, referring to the media as “the FAKE NEWS MEDIA… is the enemy of the people.”

Trump’s base keep’s buying into the fake news narrative, and by doing so, furthers it. A video from a recent rally in Pennsylvania shows Trump calling the media “fake, fake… disgusting,” and met with thunderous applause from his supporters. At a rally in May, CNN reporter Jim Acosta was met with calls of “CNN is fake news,” middle fingers, and crowding while reporting.

Illusory truth is the concept of repeating a lie so much that you and those around you begin believe it. Trump uses this to his benefit. By constantly saying media that degrades him or his administration is fake, he perpetuates the lie that media is not to be trusted. Media needs to be trusted.  Honest, truthful and innovative,  it can be a light in the darkness of misinformation. It can help society separate fact from opinion, and tweets from truth.

You are welcome to disagree, welcome to disregard, and welcome to challenge viewpoints you disagree with. But to completely disregard any opinion that disagrees with you is unprofessional and dangerous.

Media has been constant throughout the history of United States. We’ve broken the tough stories, and the heart warming ones. Journalists have spoke truth to power, uncovered scandals and secrets, protected democracy, the list goes on. We’ve ensured that we are doing our best to represent a wide variety of stories and perspectives.  As a student journalist, to watch journalists and publications I admire be torn down from a point of leadership I should be trusting is frustrating.

Earlier this year this point hit home when one of my friends had an opinion piece ready to be published by a local paper. It was pulled last minute due to a district administrator contacting the paper claiming that the piece had false information in it. I am growing up in an age where it is easy and quick to brush aside someone’s efforts simply by claiming they are “fake.”  It’s discouraging to see work brushed aside so easily, but encouraging to be given a platform to fight back.  Knowing the work, research, and effort that goes into most stories, it’s confusing to me how anyone could brush it off as “fake journalism.”

Mr. President, we are not the enemy. Real news is real life–it’s beautiful and ugly and painful and pleasant and innovative and sometimes inaccurate or hastily communicated but at its core, always striving to be true. Real isn’t always what the people or their leaders want to hear, but real makes a difference. Real is what moves us forward.