Editorial: The Daily Titan responds to President Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric

*The Daily Titan wasn’t in production on Aug. 16, when over 400 newspapers joined the Boston Globe’s call for editorials addressing President Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric. Although the print day has passed, below is the Daily Titan’s contribution to the nationwide call for editorials.

The first amendment, which allows President Donald Trump to levy accusations such as “fake news” and “enemy of the people” against newspapers across the nation also guarantees newspapers the right to carry out their jobs in the first place.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press have been inherently tied together since the birth of our nation. Our founding fathers believed a free press was key to maintaining democracy.

The free press acts as a voice and watchdog for the people, limiting its power — either by direct censorship or through intimidation and misdirection — negatively affects the American people.

Journalists serve to hold political leaders accountable for their actions and in doing so, are guided by the notion that they can make a difference in the lives of everyday people.

Labeling journalists as “enemies of the the state” is dangerous for the entire country. In making efforts to discredit news organizations that question his political agenda, Trump pulls at the strings of the first amendment and threatens to unravel the democratic fabric that allowed him to become president in the first place.

Seeking the truth and holding people accountable can be a profession in which dangers can present themselves unbeknownst by the public. Protests, like the one that occured on the Cal State Fullerton campus last fall when speaker Milo Yiannopoulos visited, can become unruly. In covering this event, two Daily Titan reporters ended up with pepper spray in their eyes.

Unfortunately, anti-press sentiment has only become stronger and more persistent.

Shortly before the Capital Gazette shooting in July, which resulted in five people dead, Yiannopoulos told media outlets he couldn’t wait for vigilante squads to start gunning down journalists.

Anti-press rhetoric, from both the current administration and from influential speakers like Yiannopoulos, helps perpetuate the false notion that journalists are biased and untrustworthy. The rise in distrust of media has created an environment that has led some sources to lash out at certain lines of questioning or refuse to talk at all.

The relationship between the media and the public is an important one, and without it the Daily Titan could not do its job to try its best to represent the student voice in all of its myriad forms.

Neutrality and accuracy are the reigning words of any newsroom. Journalists have a dedication to the truth and are not beholden to anyone who does not agree with or would otherwise like the truth to be undisclosed.

It’s no secret that local newspapers are struggling to survive. Minimal funding due to a seemingly endless reduction in available advertising revenue has led local newspapers to the brink of disappearing in some places.

Student newspapers are often the ones to fill in the gaps, sometimes in the face of dealing with their own funding issues or while struggling to remain independent from their universities.

Although student-run newspapers may be seen as having different standards than professional newspapers, they, including this one, abide by the same purpose and ethics. Those on staff seek the truth and report it, holding those in power accountable for their actions and committing themselves to serving the public through the spread of information.

While Trump may believe his rhetoric will sway public favor in his direction and discourage newspapers from weighing in on his actions, it has only made already dedicated journalists more devoted to their work and ultimately more willing to fight and protect their rights as citizens.

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