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From the Editor’s Desk: What makes America great

For the past three years I have been studying the news. I have studied how the news works, how to write articles and how to cite and find reliable sources. I have learned extensively about the importance of the integrity a good journalist must have and the huge responsibility a journalist carries; to bring the people the truth. And journalism, honest journalism, is crucial in the role of democracy.
And our founding fathers knew that. The first amendment, as you all hopefully know, states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Essentially, freedom of press means that the media is not subjected to censorship by the government.
We are lucky. The majority of the world does not have this freedom of knowledge. There are multiple countries that have extreme censorship and most have some sort of press restriction, not to mention that there are large regions of the world where the press is non-existent. That being said, there are basic laws to keep journalists from writing anything they want in America. These are known as “libel laws.”
As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and journalists do not have the right to publish defamations of character. Exposing a person to disgrace or damaging an individual’s reputation are examples of libel. However, anything that is provably true cannot be libelous. That is why solid reporting is key to any journalist’s successful career and integrity.
Although Donald Trump has said many negative comments about the media over the years, it has recently become his biggest platform for defense. What has changed? The multiple news stories about how Trump has behaved abusively toward women. After The New York Times published an article about two women coming forward claiming Trump had touched them inappropriately, Trump proceeded to sue the Times for libel, arguing that these reports were untrue.
In recent rallies and even in Wednesday night’s debate, Trump has, as many news platforms have put it, “delegitimized” the news industry by constantly telling his supporters that the media is biased as well as constantly referring to news platforms as the “lying” media. Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said, “I really don’t appreciate campaigns thinking it is the job of the media to go and be these virtual fact checkers.” But when, Ms. Conway, was it ever not a journalist’s job to check facts? Journalists aren’t working against Trump, the truth is.
The media has exposed unfortunate truths about both candidates. Both candidates have been negatively exposed, but the difference is that Hillary Clinton isn’t encouraging her supporters to not listen. Trump, on the other hand, has encouraged his supporters to target journalists. Calling them “pathetic,” “dishonest,” “sleazy” and the “disgusting and corrupt” during his rallies that are already prone to violent crowds.
According to The New York Times, Trump stated to a crowd in West Palm Beach, Florida  that, “Anyone who challenges their [the media’s] control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again, they will do worse than that. They will do whatever’s necessary.” He continued on this rant and said, “Let’s be clear on one thing, the corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism…They’re a political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda, and the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves.”
I’m a pretty brave person; all journalists have to be in order to really chase the truth. But I  will admit that I am honestly afraid of what Trump is doing to the democracy of the press in this country. These die-hard supporters are listening and he is convincing them to not listen to the media and only listen to what he has to say. Trump has threatened to depress first amendment rights for journalists if he becomes president…multiple times.
Trump would like to open up the nation’s libel laws so that when newspapers write, “purposely negative stories,”  it will be easy to “sue them and make lots of money.” According to The Wall Street Journal, in an interview with MSNBC reporters Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist last December, the topic of Vladimir Putin as a leader was brought up. Trump said, “When people call you brilliant it is always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.” When Scarborough followed up and said, “But again: he kills journalists that don’t agree with him,” Trump responded, “Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing also, Joe.”
Ultimately, I believe that there is almost nothing more important than freedom of speech and freedom of the press. United States citizens need to be able to criticize the government without fear. Democracy was built on freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press and that, Wildcats, is what makes America great.

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