Published on March 10th, 2017 | by Staff 16 - 170
Dear President Trump
Over your first weeks in office, we have watched you denounce newspapers and news websites such as CNN for being what you call “fake news.” We have seen you refuse questions from reporters at your press conference, send out tweets over the “failing New York Times.” We have seen members of your staff promote news stories about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring, and have heard you promote oft-biased news outlets such as Breitbart.
As young reporters, editors, artists and designers, we have seen journalism smeared as a vehicle for lies as well as praised as the only remaining vehicle of truth. Many of us have spent three years on The Samohi and have come to regard journalistic ethics as something to be safeguarded. Thusly, as you are our President and a major influencer on our country’s culture, we have two requests for you.
First, we ask you to respect our publication, and any other reputable school and professional publication, as legitimate. As a staff, we have a refresher course every year to go over journalistic ethics and adhere to them strictly. When we have made mistakes or reported inaccuracies, we have been swift to correct them. Our publication has a reputation that spans many decades and we ask that, whether or not you agree with the articles we report or the articles showcased in our opinion section, you respect us as messengers of truth, regardless of political leaning.
Second, we ask that you stop calling news outlets “fake news.” This is not to say that we believe that all news published today is ethically sound nor is this to say that this is a partisan issue. We have seen headlines and content from publications that fall on both sides of the political aisle that overstep boundaries when it comes to editorializing. However, by simply dismissing any critical press as “fake,” and praising outlets that shine a nice light on you as the only truth, you are jeopardizing one of the core principles that makes America the land of the free. There is a universal trust in journalism that has existed for decades as a way to take the power of the few and give it to the people in the form of facts and information. If you denounce the news as fake, it’ll only grow more partisan and more opinionated. News outlets will no longer have motivation to spread the truth. It will function as a business, churning out content that will encourage clicks and views. You made an oath to defend the Constitution and part of that is defending freedom of the press. We ask that you live up to that promise.
We know that journalistic integrity is not rock solid right now, especially with how divisive the political climate is. As a staff, we work to fill in the gap between real news coverage and news coverage that blurs ethical lines. Truth is our most important principle.
As print journalism continues to become a “dying” industry, the online world of bloggers and conflicting sources continues to grow and news becomes more about speed than accuracy, it is more important than ever that you defend the values we live by every day we put together our newspaper.
The Samohi Staff