Ohio News Media Association

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07/06/2018

Column: The truth is the truth and the media is not the enemy

Olivia WileBy Olivia Wile, ONMA intern

In midst of a political culture that frames the news media as the enemy, five staff members at the Capital Gazette paid the ultimate sacrifice for the industry with their lives last week.

For local newspapers around the country, the event serves as a reality check on the present.  As a 20-year-old working towards a career in journalism, the event serves as a reality check on my future.

Though the tragedy in Annapolis is an issue of safety, the media’s relationship with the people has never been one of total harmony. The term “fake news” is thrown around now more than ever, and sometimes justifiably. Kurt Franck, editor of the Toledo Blade, believes that opinionated news stories are becoming all-too common. As a result, it has become difficult for audiences to distinguish between fact and fiction.

However, when the news media does meet its standard of being unbiased and fact- driven, people only tend to listen to what they want to hear.

The accused gunman of the incident is no exception. Looking to slap a defamation charge on the Gazette for damaging his reputation, Ramos believed the journalists did him an injustice. Seven years later, he used violence in retaliation. However, there was no injustice. There were just facts.

It also does not help that the President of the United States portrays the media poorly. President Trump is very outspoken about many things, but especially his discontent with the media. However, the goal of the news is not to make friends with politics, or to appease anyone. Its objective is to remain objective.

Yet, when the leader of the country paints journalists as the enemies, it’s difficult to blame his supporters for feeling the same animosity towards our field.

My parents, one in the business field and the other in the medical, have always been apprehensive about my steadfast passion for journalism. After the attack at the Capital Gazette, their concerns about my future job security and income have become deeper.

At first, I worried Ramos would be a catalyst for all those angry with the news media. I worried feeling unsafe in the newsroom could take the place of feeling unsafe in the classroom. I worried that after laughing off comments relating to low salary, unemployment and a life of scrutiny, it may be time to consider them.

Although I knew I was signing up to protect the Fourth Estate to the best of my ability, I did not think I would have to go to war for it.

Though I was a bit shaken by the violence in Annapolis, as we all were, I am now more certain than ever the field of journalism is one I am ready to join.

These are difficult times in America, indeed, and although addressing the root cause of so much violence in our culture is a bit out of reach, reenergizing the reputation of journalism is not. The time is now to stand up to ridicule, leave the bias out of news and get the facts straight. A society without the news is a society without democracy. We are not the enemy.

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Olivia Wile of Hilliard, Ohio, is a journalism student at the University of Findlay and the Ohio News Media Foundation summer intern.

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