Over the summer, dozens of news outlets rallied their editorial boards and published coordinated statements decrying President Trump’s hostile rhetoric toward news media, specifically his declaration that journalists are “enemies of the people.” Arguing that a free press is a cornerstone in a functioning democracy, these organizations pointed out the dangers of living in a society where the government works in darkness and no systems exist to disclose its work.
Trump is not the first leader to be frustrated with coverage of their presidency, and he will not be the last. The nature of a journalist’s job is annoying, prying and incessant to those they are covering. However, as several of the editorials argue, when Trump defines and emphasizes journalism as the enemy to be conquered, a fundamental tool in our society is undermined.
As an independent, student-led news source, we feel the need to join this call and identify the importance of our work as well as the cause behind our efforts.
Journalists are expected to sift their way through an endless stream of facts, misinformation and lies, all to find, as Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein put it, “the best obtainable version of the truth.” Eliminating personal biases and finding all sides of an issue requires determination. It’s necessary, however, because the benefit of skilled journalism remains important to our communities.
Through our consistent coverage of people, places and events on campus, our audience gains a better understanding of the current environment, and a more connected and informed student body and community is created. Campus events, student organizations and university news along with community and state policies are topics that can directly impact you, but information about them might not show up on your social media feed or headline in another newspaper. By focusing on campus and local community, we cover a niche other outlets don’t necessarily include in their news cycle. Ultimately, this coverage and conversation can lead to change that will affect your experience.
Consistent journalism also necessitates accountability in authority figures and groups. Shining a light on the actions of individuals indicates that people are in fact watching and listening, and that these individuals’ policies and actions have legitimate consequences. When leaders know their actions cannot slip under the radar because of reporters, their policy is more likely to reflect the desires of those who elected or approved them, and corruption is discouraged.
In all of these situations, exposing the truth is the purpose of our efforts. Conveying what’s really happening is crucial in creating the connectedness of community and keeping leaders accountable. For those who are on the receiving end of a journalist’s incessant curiosity, it can seem entirely ill-intentioned, as if the scrutiny is never-ending and purposeless. However, the work we do at The Daily Cardinal is done with the best interest of students and the community in mind and catalyzing change in our society. We take pride in our practice, and look forward to continuing to produce accurate and meaningful work over for another 127 years.
As our founder and first editor-in-chief William Wesley Young once said, "the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”
Cardinal View editorials represent The Daily Cardinal's organizational opinion. Each editorial is crafted independent of news coverage. What do you think of the President's comments on the media? What role do you believe the media should play? Send any and all comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.