Donald Trump’s ‘fake news’ rhetoric doesn’t just hurt professional journalists

NATIONAL ISSUE: Young writers face threats from their government both as students and as journalists. This needs to stop

Alexander Hong/Staff

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The New York Times. The Denver Post. The Dallas Morning News. Not only are these places that The Daily Californian has sent its alumni, but they’re also publications that are joining the Boston Globe and more than 300 others in condemning President Donald Trump’s attacks on the credibility of American media. As this movement grows and the larger publications take the headlines, it’s also important that smaller student publications take part because they are bringing up the next generation of journalists — the next group of writers to protect the freedom of the press.

Today, the Daily Cal, one of the United States’ oldest college newspapers, stands in solidarity with these newspapers to condemn Trump’s attacks on the free press.

In the past few years, Trump has not only attempted to discredit journalists with claims of “fake news,” but he has also tried to discredit the academic institutions that train many of the young writers who will go on to report on the American landscape. When Trump robs academic institutions of federal support, he’s undermining the training grounds for this critical field.

After the Milo Yiannopoulos protest at UC Berkeley in February 2017, Trump threatened in a tweet to withhold federal funding from the campus if it did “not allow free speech.” But in the days after the protest, student reporters took to national news outlets to share what had happened that evening. Even though the president attempted to damage the school’s reputation, students transformed this into a platform to rise above hate and violence. It showed the drive and integrity that young writers exhibit in the face of adversity.

The stories broken in student newsrooms have led to many important changes in higher education. When the Daily Orange published a video of controversial hazing rituals in a campus fraternity, it lead to a campuswide review of all the Greek life activities at Syracuse University. When the Daily Cal exposed 124 cases of sexual misconduct across the UC system, it created visibility for those who were victims of this abuse.

But despite the importance of these academic spaces, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has plans to make big cuts to public schools and universities. Still, student journalists refuse to be silent — instead, they are reporting on these issues and putting an emphasis on the resources their universities need. Although these young writers are battling obstacles from their government both as students and as journalists, they continue to dedicate their time to publishing groundbreaking content.

Ultimately, the president needs to divert his attention away from the words of the press and reflect on his own. After the shock value fades away, his divisive and insidious rhetoric is a harsh reminder that the president doesn’t value institutions of learning. If the United States wants to foster the next generation of brilliant minds, it must maintain faith in American press and schools.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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