By Queen Ramirez
Feelings of distrust are running wild.
I used to think this was a thriving age for journalism in terms of the sheer amount of content being produced. But now I don’t recognize the field I have come to love.
A couple of years ago I told my family about my journalistic pursuits and I was met with some enthusiasm (my parents) and plenty of opposition (other family members). I was told point-blank that if I were to pursue journalism then by default I cannot be trusted. Why? Because those family members view journalists as untrustworthy.
I brushed this aside and obviously paid no attention to the thought of being considered untrustworthy. Increased distrust in media has not helped my case. Especially with a recent tweet from our president claiming the news media “is the enemy of the American people.”
Last summer when I was in Washington, D.C., I had finished my internship hours for the day and was waiting for the bus to head home. While I waited, two elderly couples visiting the city began talking to me. At first the conversation was casual. They asked for directions to a nearby location and I advised they take the same bus because it would take them directly where they wanted to go.
After about 10 minutes of casual conversation about the museums they became curious about me. So, the conversation shifted to me and how I ended up in D.C.
I said I was here for an internship. Naturally they asked where I was from and about my ambitions. The conversation had been nice and I figured I would never see them after this bus ride. So I said I wanted to be a journalist. Their next words left me speechless.
The first elderly woman asked, “What party do you belong to and are you going to be a prim and proper journalist or a loud and rambunctious one?”
It’s one thing to be told by family that you are not to be trusted, and it’s another feeling to hear a stranger ask this question.
Despite the horrid mix of confusion, shock and a small dose of anger towards this question, I laughed and said, “I just hope to be good one, but only time will tell.”
This was followed by the elderly woman giving me a shaky smile and more several painfully pointed questions about politics and why journalist do certain things. These people were elderly and I could not bring myself to be rude, but they were dissatisfied with my plain answers. So, I gave them the most complicated technical textbook answers I could muster. They then looked too confused to keep asking questions. This story ends with a 15-minute bus ride to our shared destination with, and I mean this literally and sincerely, those same two elderly couples sitting next to me with their hands raised over me verbally praying I become a good journalist.
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry because at this point everyone on the bus was staring at me. I thought I was living a nightmare.
This is an example of some ways of thinking impacting journalism. The idea of journalism is now causing controversy and distrust between people and journalists (and aspiring ones).
This is not the first time in history that media has been pointed at with attempts of oppression, and this won’t be the last. I don’t have to be in D.C. to see this because it happens here at home where I see it on and off this campus and sometimes specifically pointed to me.
I went into journalism to share the news — no matter how hard it is to hear.
As far as my future in journalism; I will do the best I can, and that is all I can ask for. And who knows, maybe I will get the chance to change it.
E-mail Ramirez at firstname.lastname@example.org