Well, the election season is officially over, and I took a break from writing. But after biting the lip these past couple of months I’ve decided this is a great time to pick back up again. Being a journalism student, this is the one of the worst and best times to be in the industry, a paradox that makes my head spin ultimately questioning the worthiness of a future as a reporter.
Donald Trump is the President of the United States, and although I can sit in this coffee shop for hours on end writing and dissecting his policy over the past few weeks, I’ll save my audience the headache for today.
Today is a day for a philosophical discussion about my life and future as a journalist. Some politics, but mostly philosophy.
For those that know me, I try to stay very objective with my line of thought. Naturally as an aspiring journalist, I try my best to not let political bias control or hinder the quality of my writing.
So without any more hesitation, let us begin.
Today, I want to discuss the first amendment, particularly the freedom of speech and the press. I want to discuss the importance of this and dig into some philosophical context to allow my audience to understand why I am hesitant about my future as a writer, predominantly in regards to our newly elected President.
As James Madison once said, if people we angels, then the function of government wouldn’t be necessary. But isn’t that what makes our world so beautiful and fascinating at the same time? Political discrepancy is only a natural part of our political system. Understanding each other’s viewpoints and decision making is how democracy flourishes and thrives. After all, in order to fix an issue, you must know what is wrong in the first place. I will always preach political moderation—equilibrium if you will. I firmly believe that Democracy fails when there is a lack of understanding from both sides of the political spectrum. Political or not, I try everyday to understand people’s needs and ideas, regardless of what I may personally believe.
The constitution is the law of the land and the foundational doctrine that governs our decision making as a united people. Regardless of your political identification, this document in particular must be the foundation of our decision making. Whether or not you believe in original intent or original understanding, the Constitution of this country is still the foundation—the starting point of our lawmaking, ethics, and social structure.
After all, good laws must satisfy three common factors: equality, eradicate pre-established notions, and form a social contract.
Equality: Law must be clear, precise and treat every citizen of equal standard no matter the authority.
Pre-established: No law that is made today can punish an action that was committed yesterday, before it existed.
Social contract: Bad laws can have a chilling effect on speech, limiting people’s access to an equilibrium of ideas and thoughts. Good law is well tailored, and applies to all individuals without hindering freedom.
The pinnacle of American ethics and law, the first amendment does exactly what law should do. It gives people the freedom of expression, an idea that was not the standard of practice around the world when it was written. At only 45 words, the first amendment is the source of our freedom.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
So how does this apply to my life as a writer? Well, under the first amendment I am granted the freedom of speech, and the press. There are 16 words that allow me to sit here and write about whatever the hell I want, guaranteeing that I will not be punished for the content I produce, regardless of what you think (as long as I don’t violate libel or slander). 16 words. 16 words gives me the freedom to express myself in the fashion I feel fits suit. Yet within those 16 words, are a billion ideas of what that freedom can mean. There are over 200 years of debate circulating on what those 16 words mean by definition, yet our morale code as a people help govern what those freedoms entail. The words are on paper, but we define by our philosophy what those words mean. Beautiful isn’t it?
The media is here to stay. It is a source for people to gather information and learn about the world around us. Historically, the media has played a huge role in the progression of our country. Providing people with information about British taxation, spreading ideas of revolution and freedom, informing individuals about government policy and war; some form of media is what keeps people in the loop at all times.
This is where I have issues. It pains me and ultimately hurts to see our President say journalist are “among the most dishonest people on Earth,” while stating he is at war with the media.
The President has also restricted certain publications from entering national briefings, an unprecedented restriction that according the historical interpretation to those 16 words, is unconstitutional. Yet the President has chosen to allow a specific handful of publications to report inside the walls of the White House, particularly those who write content supporting the rhetoric and policy of President Trump. This unfair treatment of the press has only fueled his support to follow in his rhetoric, as trust with the media has dwindled.
This is inherently dangerous to those who consume news on a daily basis. Just like our government, the media is not ran by angels. Both biases MUST be shown in the news. It allows educated individuals the opportunity to dissect and absorb all angles in politics. Democracy requires the most attentiveness of its people compared to other forms of government, relying on political attentiveness to move the country forward. Voting is just a small engagement that people must have. Consuming news is part of our democracy, and more importantly the foundation of how people base their political identification.
The President’s suppression and negative rhetoric of the press is not only inherently dangerous to our democracy, but it also moves our nation into a state where media is controlled.
I just came back from Nicaragua, and during my visit I was told I could not write about the politics of the country based on the law. The media, for the most part, is controlled and funded by the government. This allows the majority of the population to only consume news that benefits the impression of the government. Without criticism, the government can continue to influence what people think, often hindering progress and freedom of thought.
No, the United States is most likely not heading into this direction, but it does make me wonder how the suppression of the press by this administration is comparable to other nations that control the media.
It is, constitutionally speaking on behalf of those 16 words, un-American to control what media is allowed to report on the President’s behalf. It not only violates the first amendment, but the fundamental values that makes America so great to begin with.
If you are mad with the media, then as consumer, you should absorb more news from multiple sources, not engage yourself in what makes you happy.
Remember, democracy requires the most attentiveness from its people to thrive, and that includes the consumption of news. Equilibrium. Open your mind, and hear both sides of the argument in order to formulate an objective opinion. Never stop engaging and reading.
So although the words of the President do make me hesitant in my future as a writer, I will allows hold dear those 16 words that help make this country the greatest place on the planet. I will continue to write no matter the circumstance. I will always be critical, no matter who is in power. It is my job to do so. And although I do have my own political opinions, I will always try my best to stay objective. I’m sure there will be things President Trump does that I will agree with, and I’ll write when that opportunity comes. Positive or negative, I will continue to write until the day I die.
Thank you for reading everyone! I will try my best to post twice a week from here on out.
Until next time, stay engaged.