Being a journalist today isn't easy. In countries around the world, we're being physically and verbally assaulted. We're being threatened and imprisoned for our work and the printed newspaper industry is slowly being replaced with digital content that anyone can post.
That being said, journalism is still an important part of my life, maybe even everyone's lives.
I started writing in elementary school, but I started journalism writing in middle school. While the work wasn't that serious and the reporting was sub-par, it felt great to be a part of something that could have meaning.
During my senior year of high school, journalism became a major part of my life. I put in hours and hours of work every week to produce a weekly high school newspaper that felt like it was a part of me. Sometimes I would stay at school until 7 p.m. to finish writing an article or editing an article or laying out a page in the newspaper. It also didn't help that I was in two other writing classes, one was creative writing and the other was English/essay writing. Switching back and forth between all three types of writing felt weird and sometimes I would get them mixed up, but it was all worth it. Journalism was intense and stressful, but it was rewarding. Nothing can really describe the feeling I get when someone says that they enjoyed an article I wrote or when I hear people talking about important issues because of an article that I wrote.
That's the purpose of journalism. It's supposed to get people talking about important issues and having the discussions they don't want to have.
Journalism is important work. It's hard, it's grueling, it's punishing, it's tedious and only certain people are capable of being a journalist. We go to places around the world that other people wouldn't want to go to. We investigate the smallest things and we investigate government officials. We'll report on a new stop sign being put up and we'll report on genocides, wars, and poverty.
Many people have been calling journalism and specific publications "fake news" and "the enemy of the American people." Even though the comments weren't directed at me, they were directed at an industry that I care for deeply. I'll admit, there are a lot of newspapers and magazines and websites that spread made up news stories, but true journalists pride themselves on pristine reputations because we understand how much work goes into writing an article and producing a complete paper.
If we didn't care, we wouldn't go through the trouble of running corrections and double (maybe even triple) checking our facts and our quotes. Being called "fake news" hurts because it reduces all our hard work, blood, sweat and tears to trash. Being called "the enemy of the American people" hurts even more because, as journalists, our whole purpose is to write for the people. The first amendment was created to protect us, and we were created to protect the American people through reporting.
Last year I visited the Newseum in Washington D.C. with the newspaper staff. That visit taught me what it means to be a journalist. Walking through the exhibits and seeing the history of journalism plastered all over the walls was empowering because, for every single major event in history, journalists were there. We were there during the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the assassination of JFK, the assassination of MLK, the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 9/11, and I know that we'll continue to be there for all that's to come, no matter what. We'll keep reporting and investigating stories, even if people think that we're "the enemy of the American people" or "fake news."