If you asked me when I was little what I wanted to be when I grew up, the list of answers included veterinarian, baseball player, and fashion designer. Never did I dream that I would grow up to be an evil enemy of the American people. But now it's a title I wear with pride.
When I started college four years ago and picked journalism as my major I was comforted by the confidence and self-assurance that came with that choice. I found solace in being surrounded by the power of words and ideas, and pride in pursuing a career where responsibility, accountability, and honesty aren't just good business practices - they're occupational requirements. This feeling hasn't dissipated in the years since.
And then Donald Trump was elected.
From the beginning of his presidency, Trump consistently and disdainfully negated the news media, with phrases like "fake news" or "enemy of the people," all the while leaving me feeling powerless in my future as a journalism student. He discredited professionals whose footsteps I hoped to follow and projected his anti-media rhetoric at every opportunity. And every time he did so, I was left feeling confused.
Confused because he credited the news media with having a lack of credibility. Chastised them for their disregard for accuracy. Generalized them as evil, flawed, and uncaring. All of which I knew was not true about the good journalists which I so respected and wanted to emulate. In the time since President Trump's inauguration, the national conversation about journalists has turned increasingly negative, all because of one man's opinion.
President Trump doesn't just speak out against journalists, his disapproval of the profession is an attack on the livelihood and careers of so many men and women who have dedicated their lives to the truth. He has caused a public distrust of the media. This is the reality. And this is my reality.
Luckily, I never needed Donald Trump's approval to pursue the truth, to enlighten readers, or to "fight the good fight" like so many journalists before me.
Pride in my craft is the most important requirement to do the job with confidence. That, with a love for the written word and a responsibility to the people, is all I need. So I'll wear the "enemy" title with pride.
Donald Trump's decision to generalize journalists as evil, and to call their work "fake" is nothing but a disservice to men and women who act as watchdogs for the public. So thankfully, I don't put much stock in his opinion on this issue.
Ernest Hemingway once said "There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed." And that is what journalists do. They sacrifice themselves to the profession and to the people who they safeguard with the provision of knowledge. That is what I may one day have the opportunity to do. And I know that experience could never feel "fake."