With President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, several groups, whether because of their sex, race or religion, have fears for their future and the current state of the country.
Another group is also facing overwhelming fears about the next four years: journalists, most of whom are preparing for an unprecedented siege on their profession.
Throughout Trump’s months of campaigning, he has criticized reporters who asked questions about his policies and ongoing scandals. It has escalated from criticizing reporters’ talent to banning entire news organizations, like the Washington Post and BuzzFeed, from campaign events. He has also made it part of his platform to strengthen libel laws as a way to control news output.
Following his win, traditions of presidential transparency with news organizations have already been eliminated. Trump did not allow reporters to follow him on his plane ride to the White House or document his first meeting with President Barack Obama, according to a Nov. 10 Washington Post article..
In addition to restraints, Trump’s behavior toward journalists has included personal attacks against reporters and his infamous impression of disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. Trump also attacked the journalistic integrity and looks of People writer Natasha Stoynoff after she accused him of a 2005 sexual assault.
The residual effects of this often unwarranted animosity has already caused concern among journalists all over the country. On Nov. 9, Chicago Tribune reporter Peter Nickeas tweeted that a fellow employee was spit on after asking a supporter near the Trump Tower for comment. Countless other stories of journalists being harassed by Trump supporters have also recently surfaced, including a CNN cameraman caught in a YouTube video Nov. 5 for attempting to do his job by covering the 2016 election.
According to a Gallup poll published Sept. 14, in the height of election season, American trust in media was at an all-time low with 32 percent of those polled having “a great deal” or “fair” amount of trust. The figure also dropped this year among Republicans to 14 percent.
There is no question that Trump’s feelings about the media will continue their snowball effects on the population. As reporters fight for credibility during Trump’s presidency, it will only get worse for student media who already have trust issues from all sources.
For a publication like The Chronicle that already receives major pushback and criticism from internal offices for being student-run and from outside sources who are wary of media, it will be a greater uphill battle for the next four years. As student journalists not only trying to break into the field during this time, but currently trying to promote transparency, the overall feeling is dismay.
It takes public support to stop Trump from controlling the media. Reporters should not have a target on their backs as they advocate for public knowledge and accountability. These goals are threatened under a Trump administration, even on the smaller scale of student media.
It also takes more action from those seeking truth and reporting it, as mandated by the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics code. The way students can prevent perpetuating misconceptions is simple: fix the actual errors in the current media system— not necessarily the ones Trump claims exist—and learn from them. Because government support may no longer exist, it is up to media members at all levels to convince their peers, uncooperative institutions and those from varying political parties that press restriction will cause more harm than good.
Student reporters like us at The Chronicle will continue to deliver accurate news to our readers despite the tough road that lies ahead. We seek to create an informed society through truthful reporting to dispel the mistrust Trump’s campaign left behind.