Trump inspires college journalists


Throughout his campaign, President Donald Trump has been very vocal in expressing negative views on news outlets and reporters which has some journalism majors at the County College of Morris feeling a mixture of attacked and inspired.

“I have never been a fan of Donald,” said Jannat Sheikh, journalism major at CCM. “He is extremely unprofessional when he speaks and even tweets.”

The job of a journalist is to gather and present factual information in an unbiased manner. Having a president vocalize his distaste toward the profession through terms like “fake news” and “lying media” creates a sense of distrust between the public and the press.

“Journalists serve an important purpose in a democracy,” said Derek Allen, CCM alumnus and staff reporter at The Progress, a weekly newspaper serving six communities in Essex County. “It’s our job to be government watchdogs, out to expose wrongdoing and keep people critically informed about their government.”

Allen said he believes that Trump doesn’t fully comprehend the responsibilities of a journalist.

“I personally think that’s disgusting, unprofessional and so, so dangerous,” Allen said. “Impeding and delegitimizing reputable news outlets does not help Americans. Lying does not help Americans.”

Sheikh took issue with Trump’s choice of words in his disparagement of the press.

“If he wants to express his opinion, he can say something like ‘the media isn’t as credible as it used to be,’” Sheikh said. “But, it truly annoys me when he says, ‘fake news’ and ‘lying media.’”

Trump has found a way to denounce old media like television and newspapers, while still finding a way to use new media, like Twitter, to his advantage.

“I think he views the press as a PR tool to be used, since that’s what he’s always seen it as while he was on reality TV,” Allen said. “To him, the press only exists to give him more PR. But now that it’s all bad press, or critical of him, he tries to spin it as false.”

Current news editor of The Youngtown Edition and journalism major, Brett Friedensohn had his own interpretation of why Trump criticizes the media.

“I think that most of the time it’s just him trying to avoid being held accountable,” Friedensohn said. “He’s done it quite often where he has just said things that either aren’t true or don’t have any backing.”

While Trump’s comments about the media may seem like a promotional hashtag, Sheikh and Friedensohn have taken his words as a push in an investigative direction.

“An attack on the general press I think is an attack on the truth and trying to be held accountable,” said Friedensohn. “It inspires me to do some more investigation on the government. I don’t get angered by it because I know that a person who is trying to get power and doesn’t want anyone to hold him accountable. “

Sheikh said she takes his comments as a challenge to prove the efficacy of journalism.

“As a future journalist, I feel that I need to work harder to portray media in a positive light,” Sheikh said.


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