Why America needs journalism

Maddie Driggers, Staff Writer

Obama was my first presidential experience.

I was 11 years old in 2008 when he won his first election. I remember waking up on Nov. 9, walking into the kitchen and seeing my mom reading the newspaper with a huge picture of Barack and his family, waving to the American people with a headline reading, “Obama Wins!”

Back then, I knew it was a big deal because I had heard all throughout the election that he would be the first African-American president, but I still don’t think I understood the social and political significance of that statement or Barack Obama himself.

The next time Obama won the election in 2012, the way I received the information had changed in just the short span of four years. Instead of seeing it in the newspaper the next morning, I remember staying up and reading the election results live on Twitter.

From then on, I didn’t read the newspaper or online publications to get my news; I would go straight and exclusively to Twitter. If I couldn’t understand a policy or social issue, or any news story from the collection of 140 character blurbs on my feed, I would just move on, accepting my fate of being in the dark. If any discussion involving political news came about, I usually brushed off my inadequate knowledge with an indifferent comment like, “Oh, I hate politics, I try not to get involved,” or “Well, I’m not really a political person.”

Thus, my whole middle and high school life was spent blissfully unaware of how good I had it being a citizen in Obama’s America.

To an extent, I think all of us were blissfully unaware of our good fortune under Obama’s administration. Employment rates were going up, we were coming out of a recession and healthcare was becoming more affordable for every citizen. Half of the country relaxed with Obama in the driver’s seat. We didn’t read the paper, we didn’t share articles on Facebook, we just trusted that the president and his administration were doing good work.

However, the process was slow, as most processes in politics are, and the other half of the American people were growing more and more restless. They wanted something to change, they wanted someone different, but they were not fully informed on the issues either, and they were tired of stuffy politicians explaining them with diplomatic jargon they couldn’t understand.

Enter Donald J. Trump.

Donald Trump is not a politician. He does not care about the truth. He cares about saying whatever needs to be said to please the people that support him. At first, his speeches, rallies and quotes made news because of how ridiculous they sounded. The press gave him attention and a platform to voice his thoughts, and the world laughed.

And then, on Jan. 20, 2017, he became the President of the United States.

It has always been important to stay informed. And, it’s not like nobody was reading the paper before Trump became president. But, up until now, it was common to hear people say that journalism was dead and that the way we consumed news would soon become a thing of the past.

However, now that Trump is our president, I would like to object to those statements.

America needs journalism. There are smart, informed publications and journalists out there determined to tell the truth, even when our president lies or tells them to be silent. And we need them if we are going to stay united as a country.

If you don’t believe me, maybe you should hear it from someone else who has some experience in the highest office in the land – Former President George W. Bush.

In an interview on the NBC’s “Today”, Bush talked about his opinion on the media and how it relates to the presidency.

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” he said. “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account … It’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

Trump represents the extreme divide of the American people and utter lack of respect for the truth in our modern age. But, he also represents a new age of change for America in a way I can’t imagine he intended.

Ever since the campaign and ultimate election of Donald Trump, I have seen a dramatic shift in the way people interact with politics and news, in general, and the way they view their role in the government. People are actually reading articles instead of skimming Tweets. They are making banners and marching in the streets instead of sitting back and putting the power in the hands of the government. They are sharing stories, calling out Trump when he lies and defending people who are hurt by his administration, even when it doesn’t affect them personally.

Trump is changing the way people look at and interact with the government. He’s helping to get the power handed back to the people.

Obviously, there is still a serious divide in the ideology of Americans. We’re still fighting about issues and disagreeing on policy. But, at least people are paying attention. At least we’re staying informed. At least we are participating in the happenings of our government and demanding citizen involvement instead of standing idly by. Change isn’t going to happen overnight, but at least we’re headed in the right direction.

There are so many dependable, truthful news organizations out there for you to support in our quest for the truth, such as:

  1. The New York Times
  2. The Washington Post
  3. Politico
  4. USA Today
  5. The Wall Street Journal
  6. BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  7. NPR (National Public Radio)
  8. The Guardian

And those are just scratching the surface. If you’re struggling to stay engaged and informed, here are some online tools and publications that are reliable, simple and designed to keep you well-educated:

  1. The Skimm: A daily email service that sends you headlines and top stories in all areas of news and politics. It sends just one email every weekday with links to all the stories it covers, so you can read more if you wish.
  2. Vox: Their tagline is, “Explain the news,” and that is exactly what they do. This organization breaks down top stories and headlines for you in language you can understand in just about every and any news category you can think of.
  3. Pocket: A service that gives you a place to store articles you find online, but don’t have time to look at and save them to read later. If you stumble across something interesting on Facebook, you can put the article in your “pocket” and read it when it is convenient for you.

So, keep it up. Never give up or doubt what the power of the people can do. Stay informed and pay attention. America is our country. If we demand the truth and the freedoms we feel entitled to, we will receive them.