Zac Wenzel

JRNM 151 Student

Submitted photo | Zac Wenzel JRNM 151 Student

“It is a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.” This classic George Orwell quote from the novel “1984” rings truer than ever in today’s relationship between our government and journalists. The novel is a bleak glimpse at a government controlled dystopian future, where all is controlled by the powers that be, including the press.

On Feb. 24, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held what was called a “gaggle,” a smaller non-televised press briefing. This came just before President Trump’s speech at the annual gathering of conservatives known as the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he launched yet another attack on the media and continued claims of fake news.

What was troubling about this “gaggle” was the barring of six specific news outlets, The New York and Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed News, BBC and The Huffington Post, due to their criticisms of the current President and his administration. Spicer, admitted that the meeting was only for reporters from a group of previously confirmed news outlets such as Breitbart News, One America News, and The Washington Times, which are viewed as having conservative leanings, as well as networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News. Reporters from The Associated Press and Time Magazine were permitted to attend, but they chose not to attend in protest of the White House’s decision to ban certain outlets.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” said Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times.

History is there to teach us vital lessons. In the late 1960s and early 70s, the Nixon administration had an extreme distaste for journalists. And it was journalism that ultimately brought his wrong doings to light. Through hard work and determination, Washington Post writers Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein showed journalists what the power of the press can truly mean.

For future journalists everywhere, these events are earth-shattering and troubling. It is easy to become discouraged at the current climate and treatment of journalists everywhere. It can also provide the determination to work harder than ever to practice freedom of press and First Amendment rights.

As a journalism student, I have never felt more determination than I felt after these journalists were barred. Seeing this unfold and being overcome with anger and fear, those emotions quickly turned to pride. Pride in those journalists in the world who press on despite being labeled as “fake news” and barred from press briefings. As a journalist of the future, I take great comfort in the fact that there are journalists out there now that won’t allow the destruction or silencing of their words.