Hi my name is Rachel and I am a journalist, but according to President Donald Trump last October, I’m also an “enemy of the people.”
I’m not usually one to beg for recognition, but the persecution that journalists face in my field is absolutely unwarranted.
According to NBC, documents surfaced showing that the American government was monitoring journalists at the U.S. and Mexico border while they were reporting on the migrant caravan situation occurring there.
The leaked list included information from journalists, activists and photographers that authorities found worthy of security screening at the border. Some on the list were even detained for, again, simply being journalists.
If constant monitoring and the fear of being arrested for asking questions isn’t enough to scare you, a man from Maryland was arrested recently for planning to mass murder both journalists and Democrats.
To put this into perspective for you, less than one month ago this man was in possession of 15 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition with the intention to kill journalists and “leftists in general.”
On top of having to worry about secret data collection and being potential targets of mass murder, journalists who dare to challenge their institutions of government sometimes face deadly consequences. According to the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from Saudi Arabia, was murdered late last year for criticizing its government.
Every day, Khashoggi said he feared for his life because of his government; his fears were confirmed when the Saudi crown prince ended up having him killed. In the weeks following his murder, it was reported by The Business Insider that the Saudi government lied in multiple instances about what happened to Khashoggi.
At first, the Saudi Arabian government attempted to cover up the reporter’s murder before finally admitting they had him assassinated. Not only was Khashoggi’s death denied by the Saudi government, but Trump stood in staunch defense of crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman through the entire process. This raised unconfirmed speculations of people wondering if Trump was involved in the cover up and an enemy of journalists.
Now, I won’t ignore that journalists have abused their power and printed false information. For example, Sabrina Rubin Erdely is a reporter who was found guilty of defamation because of her article in the Rolling Stone, “A Rape on Campus.”
I’m also not going to deny that liberal and conservative journalists alike have failed the American people at times. Coverage from both CNN and FOX news on the 2016 presidential election were examples, in my opinion, of journalists and news sources failing to properly inform the voting public.
The press is a vital, albeit unofficial, branch of government and an important part of democracy because it holds politicians accountable and informs voters. The job we do means something, and I don’t take that lightly.
I don’t regret entering the field of journalism, but I can say that in our current society I fear for the future of reporters.
By no means am I saying I’m a hero for choosing this career, but I’m most certainly not an “enemy of the people.”
Rachel is a third year journalism major working currently as the Arts and Life Editor for the Daily 49er. She’s studied at Fresno City College and at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo where she used to be Editor-in-chief at the Cuestonian Student Newspaper. Her goal is to become a local crime reporter and to tell the stories of her community.
In her, very limited, spare time she likes to spend time with her cat Beans and go to Disneyland.