On Friday, Feb. 26, Madalyn Amato, editor in chief of Daily Forty-Niner, spoke on the Good Day LA morning show about the challenges she has faced while being a student journalist for Student Press Freedom Day 2021.
“I got into journalism to really give a voice to the voiceless and to represent those who aren’t always heard,” Amato said on Good Day LA when asked about why she became a student journalist.
What she didn’t know when she entered student journalism was the life changing local, national and world events she would be covering on behalf of her college publications. In the midst of reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum, following the death of George Floyd, and was at its peak in summer of 2020. Some of the largest protests for racial justice, police accountability and civil rights were happening in Long Beach, involving many from the college campus community.
Covering these protests was dangerous, but the student journalists’ effort and dedication never wavered.
“It’s definitely hard to juggle wanting to represent the story and telling the story as thoroughly as possible, while also being concerned for your physical well-being and your safety,” Amato said. “Thankfully I’ve never experienced teargas, but I know several of my fellow journalists did. It definitely was a lot to go up against, but that’s why we do it, to tell these stories.”
Along with Amato, student journalists Amisha Sethi and Eddy Binford-Ross were also on the show speaking about their experiences being student journalists.
“I did not think that I was going to be getting tear-gassed by my own government,” Binford-Ross said. “It has opened me up to reality but it hasn’t changed my passion. Instead, it made me more passionate to protect freedom of the press and to protect other journalists.”
Student Press Freedom Day, organized by the Student Press Law Center, was created to raise awareness of the vital work and impact of student journalists, highlight the challenges student journalists face and showcase the contribution of journalism education to engaged civil life. The theme for Student Press Freedom Day 2021 is Journalism Against the Odds in acknowledgement of the phenomenal news coverage student journalists produced despite being faced with these incredible challenges. For more information on Student Press Freedom Day, visit StudentPressFreedom.org.