I have two years left of school before I’m thrown into the pit of real-world journalism.
Two years ago when I began my journey as a j-school student, the world was very different.
The media was something you could count on to bring you facts (or something close to facts, depending on the network you watch).
Women didn’t have to swarm to their OBGYN to ensure they’d get an affordable form of contraception that would last through a presidential term.
Our country wasn’t led by an orange with a toupee that misconstrues constructive criticism for personal attacks.
Journalists need to constantly adapt the way they cover news, but as a journalism student who is going to be released into a world where the media is seen as an evil monster that can’t be trusted, we’re tasked with the challenge of cleaning up the mess the presidential administration has created.
We’re now living in a world where alternative facts are the ones people are trusting.
Now something tells me if I walked into my professor’s office hours telling him that the wrong answers I chose on an exam were just “alternative answers,” I wouldn’t exactly walk out with a better grade. Instead, I’d probably walk out with a lower grade and a humiliated ego.
How are we, as young journalists, supposed to do our job when those in charge of running this country are purposefully trying to shun us?
Well here’s what we shouldn’t do:
We shouldn’t act on impulse. While the president and his administration have said and done some questionable things, it doesn’t mean it’s the media’s job to pounce on mistakes like a lion.
The predatory-like attitude journalists have the second a mistake is made is slowly turning them into an opposition party…meaning their only goal is to oppose or fight with the current president.
While it’s important to keep everything in check, it’s important to do it in a way that’s not too aggressive. That means unconfirmed documents shouldn’t be released just to stir up trouble.
That means reaching out to multiple sides of a story to ensure, or provide the opportunity for, all sides to be evenly portrayed.
These next few years are crucial for journalists, both current and future. This is a time where we need to be strategic, smart and patient.
The next generation of good, talented journalists is coming up in a time where that talent isn’t appreciated.
It is our duty, as journalists to tell real facts in well-thought and researched stories.
It is our educators’ duty to teach us right from wrong and how to make our voices heard in a constantly changing world.
It is our institution’s duty to provide a platform where voices and opinions can be equally heard and prepare an atmosphere that fosters growth through questions and answers.
When I walk across that graduation stage in two years, I want to be confident in my degree and know that when my name goes on a story, it’s a piece of well-researched and well-covered journalism the people deserve.
That’s the lifestyle I want and need as a journalist.
That’s the lifestyle I want the University of Missouri to prepare me for.
That’s the lifestyle I hope to see this country move back to someday soon.