Protecting the Pen

How can we support good journalism at a time when it’s needed most?

by Tyler Hicks

@QuickThicks

At a rally on November 7, then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump referred to Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” (a favorite jab of his) and then referenced the potential candidacy of former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling.

“There may be a pretty great pitcher running against her,” Trump said, referring to Warren’s Massachusetts Senate seat. “We’ll see.”

Should Schilling decide to challenge Warren for her seat in Congress, his style and platform may be similar to what we saw during Donald Trump’s road to the presidency. This includes a dangerous disdain for journalism.

“Rope. Tree. Journalist.”

Thus reads the charming shirt worn by a Trump supporter and shared by Curt Schilling with considerable glee on Twitter.

The news media has taken a trouncing over the last, well, forever, but accusations of bias and criticisms of specific journalists rose to incredible heights during the 2016 presidential election.

At times, these criticisms took dark turns: There was the infamous Corey Lewandowski and Michelle Fields incident, the ongoing feud between Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly (which took some morbid turns) and various incidents of physical altercations between Trump supporters and the press.

The news media is not flawless — journalists are human beings, after all. And there is a time and place for an earnest conversation about media bias. However, no reporter, regardless of their political bent or the outlet they work for, deserves to be treated like many reporters have been treated in the dismal dog days of 2015 and 2016.

We must combat attacks against journalists at all costs — with Trump as President, we’ll need them.

Here are just a few valuable moves we can make to ensure that journalists and their work is protected and supported in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Donate: John Oliver gave a huge boost to ProPublica when he name-dropped them on his weekly Last Week Tonight program the Sunday after the election. Reliable and in-depth investigative reporting has always been a necessity, but resources like ProPublica are especially vital in these alleged “post-truth” times.

Subscribe: Contrary to what President-elect Donald Trump might think (or tweet), The New York Times is not failing. Their spike in number of subscriptions is encouraging. While many of us may be unable to afford a subscription, doing whatever you can to support the cream of the crop has been, is, and always will be essential for the future of this profession.

Study: We are a small part of the next generation of storytellers. As journalism students, we should religiously read the best reporting and learn how to craft honest and informative stories.

Let’s get to work.

Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism