Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


Staff Discusses Freedom of Press

default article imageThe current political administration has targeted various media outlets, claiming that they are “the enemy of the people.” One example came on Feb. 20, when President Donald Trump tweeted, “The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger deemed this statement as inaccurate and dangerous. Sulzberger admits that pasts presidents have complained about the media coverage of their administration, but always defended free speech.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are included in the First Amendment of the Constitution. The editorial staff of The Outlook discusses our views on what roles journalists play for the people. Are journalists the enemy or are they a type of ‘guardian’ of the people? 

Most of the editors agreed that journalists have a duty to provide accurate and important information to the people, but that they are not responsible for guarding or protecting the people from the events of the world. The role of journalists and the media is to report on the events and information that is around them. Their job is not to produce rumors, or harbor information from the public.

“I firmly believe that the credible journalists provide essential information to the public, but they don’t ‘guard’ them. Ultimately, it’s up to the people to decide what information they are exposed to and how they are ‘guarded,’” said an editor. 

However, some editors did feel that when journalists provide information to the people they are in fact acting as their guardians, looking out for the good of the many. 

“I certainly feel that journalists are the guardians of the people, especially because they have always been the gatekeepers to pertinent information,” another editor said. “Though the media has been targeted in recent years, journalists still have an ethical responsibility to report to the public on important issues.”

The President of the United States is only one individual who has stated that the press is the enemy. 

However, he seems to lash out at the journalists that do not support his political views. What about the journalists who agree with his thoughts and actions? How can he say that some are the enemy while some are friends? Many editors of The Outlook agreed with this sentiment. 

“If they are covered in a negative light, they will disagree, but if there is a positive story about them then they will agree. Nobody wants to see themselves publicly shed in a bad light,” an editor said.

“The administration likes to bog down journalism so they can downplay the bad press they receive. While journalists are simply reporting the news, the administration has suffered from so many bad publications that they feel the press is against them,” said another editor. 

In another tweet, Trump said, “The Fake News Media in our Country is the real Opposition Party. It is truly the Enemy of the People! We must bring honesty back to journalism and reporting!”

The editors acknowledge that there are sources of false information out there. With the internet at everyone’s fingertips, anyone can make an account and post what they believe to be news. 

“A lot of people today have this stigma that journalists are out to get them or expose them. This fear of an ulterior motive is not completely unsound. The journalist could misquote this source, contextualize what they say, and perhaps even make it ‘clickbait’ worthy. We have to remember the stakeholders of a story; who can gain or lose from this?” said an editor. 

During their latest in person meeting, Sulzberger warned Trump that his comments about the media are giving other global leaders the license to crack down on their media. Editors also agreed that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not afforded to journalists internationally. They are commodities not offered by many governments and nation-states. Nonetheless, journalists are doing their jobs. “The freedom of speech isn’t even practiced in many countries, and people risk their lives to report the truth to the masses,” said another editor. 

“We live in an era where authoritarian rule is becoming increasingly prevalent and silencing the media, or owning them, centralizes power,” said an editor.

“Though rhetoric in the U.S. reverberates on a global scale, other countries have tried to silence the press when they have given platforms to marginalized groups,” said one editor. “For example, a recent purge of queer people in Chechnya received little to no coverage in Russia, but personal accounts and certain statistics made their way to news outlets in the United States,” continued the editor.

Monmouth University views The Outlook as an ally, not as an enemy. Our paper is a resource for the people of the University and of the community.

“Journalists cannot be silenced no matter how many powerful figures may try to do so,” said an editor. 

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