By Kayla Ricumstrict
Though journalists are facing higher levels of mistrust and physical intimidation, two journalists say their work feels more important than ever.
In talks at The Princeton Summer Journalism Program, Gabriel Debenedetti of New York Magazine and Megan Garber of The Atlantic spoke to a small group of student journalists about the problems facing journalists in the age of Trump.
Criticism is a part of the job for journalists, but Trump’s words have made it worse. “The failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories, even on very positive achievements,” the president wrote in a recent tweet, “and they will never change!”
For some reporters, this mistrust has turned into intimidation—and even violence. At a recent Trump rally, a woman gave CNN reporters the finger. Verbal attacks and offensive gestures are only two of a number of issues journalists have to face. “I know a lot of political writers who’ve felt under physical threat,” said Debenedetti, who covers politics for New York. “That is not something we should get used to, and we should not just say ‘that’s just okay, that’s just what it is.’ We shouldn’t have to deal with that.”
Garber, the Atlantic staff writer, agreed. “There is a feeling of fear, I have to say, among journalists,” she said. “People will feel entitled to send me all kinds of terrible feedback, and I think that’s a very common experience for women. I’m pretty sure it’s worse for women of color.”
Intolerance for women and people of color is also a problem within the newsroom, said Garber. That has weakened the public’s trust in journalists because many people don’t see their stories represented. “Journalism has been a profession dominated by white men,” said Garber. “I think people now are responding to that narrowness by resenting journalism overall, but I don’t think that’s fair.” Despite that, Garber is excited to see more diversity. “We are getting more and more people into journalism, more and more voices,” she said. Those people are “able to share their own experiences to tell the stories of people whose stories weren’t always told before.”