Not the Enemy of the People: Combating Trump’s War on the Free Press


The danger of President Donald Trump’s attacks against the media can carry its way over to Pace and Pleasantville.

Pace Chronicle Staff

As journalists, we must always be receptive to criticism from our mentors, readers and those we cover. Being told our reporting is inaccurate or sub-par is a tough pill to swallow, but it is necessary to hear in order for us to provide the best news stories for our readers.

However, there is a drastic difference between rightful criticism and those who use their power to invalidate and attack honest reporting. Those attacks, especially coming from the most powerful person in the world, are a major threat to journalism at the collegiate and professional level.

That current threat to press freedom is why The Pace Chronicle is joining hundreds of other news outlets today in answering the Boston Globe’s call to repudiate President Trump’s constant attacks against the media.

The president has vilified the press since he kicked off his campaign for presidency in 2015, and shows no signs of stopping. Shortly after his inauguration, he dubbed journalists “the enemy of the people.” He has used the same phrase, along with other autocrat-like language, against the media, even after five Capital Gazette journalists were gunned down in June.

Trump’s dangerous language has turned journalists into public enemy number one among his base, and while the media is far from perfect, it is disturbing to see a portion of the population’s view of the media change from skepticism to hatred.

Readers may be asking why we are calling out the president, considering he has never criticized The Chronicle, or any other college newspaper for that matter. The answer is to give a forewarning of the precedent his language can create.

Trump’s attacks on the media mainly targets national news outlets, but his rhetoric opens the door for those in power at all levels to attack journalists simply due to our hard work and reporting. This means local leaders, like the ones in Pleasantville, or authority figures on college campuses like Pace’s can dismiss credible reporting as “fake news” in an effort to not be held accountable for their missteps or wrongdoings.

This is not hyperbole, as we have already seen Trump’s “fake news awards” carry its way to local politics.

As student journalists, the last thing we need as the primary news source for our campus and the surrounding community is President Trump’s attacks to continue to carry their way over to us. Once that detestation for media spreads to local communities and college campuses, the future becomes bleak and physically threatening for those of us who have dreamed about becoming journalists since our first high school media course.

We call on the president to end his dangerous rhetoric, as we cannot take two–or possibly six–more years of his relentless verbal assaults against the media. Because whether we are a college newspaper or The New York Times, whether we are covering a new academic integrity code or Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin, we still play equally vital roles in this democracy. And anyone who tries to take that role and importance away is nothing more than a bully who would like nothing more than to see their verbal attacks lead to physical assaults against journalists.

Finally, we would like to express that we’re not only standing in solidarity with the hundreds of outlets publishing editorials today, but also with the multiple groups this president has dehumanized, many of whom are members of the Pace community. So, this is also a repudiation of Trump’s attacks against people of color, activists, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, those living in poverty, Muslims, women, and all other groups he has harassed and put at risk of hate crimes.