Mr. Trump, you ran for president on the idea that you would make America great again, but you are attacking the thing that makes us great: our freedom.
Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. My love for the profession began when I was in third grade. One day I received an assignment to look at the newspaper every day for a week. I pored over every page of the papers we received at my house and marveled at the things happening in the world. However, I didn’t stop reading the news after the assignment was over; in fact my consumption of the news has increased from just reading the paper delivered to my house to following a variety of organizations on Twitter and perusing multiple news websites daily. Over the years, I have been drawn to the truth and the intent of these organizations to tell a story that was fair from all angles, and now I want to be a part of it and write articles reporting on the politics of our country. But because of your era of “fake news” and the “fake news media,” I now feel sad and afraid for my dream to become a journalist.
I’m not only worried about my future, but I’m nervous about the future of the country. Free press is one of our foundational freedoms outlined in the Bill of Rights, and you swore to protect it when you entered the office of President of the United States. According to Justice Joseph Story—a supreme court justice in the nineteenth century—freedom of the press means more than just allowing newspapers to operate; it means “every man shall be at liberty to publish what is true, with good motives and for justifiable ends….It is not only right in itself, but it is an inestimable privilege in a free government.” This is what you are supposed to protect: our right, as citizens, to know the truth. A democratic government without free press would easily fall into corruption as politicians, business leaders, and other influential figures pay to publish favorable, false stories about them. Can you imagine the turmoil? For me it’s not hard to imagine.
While your Twitter attacks do not legally restrain free speech, your tweets telling reporters they are “enem[ies] of the people” and claiming news organizations are “failing” certainly limit our ability to publish freely. Your claims that unfavorable articles about you are “fake news” destroys the belief that news organizations seek to report on the truth. Each attack on our first amendment right to free press is an attack on our great American democracy.
Mr. Trump, you might be a history maker, but we, the journalists, are history’s recorders. Whether you are known as the man who “made America great again” is up to us, the people, and as a future political journalist, I’ll be reporting the truth. Tweet carefully.