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The Easterner

Journalism still matters, now more than ever

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Andrew Watson for The Easterner

Andrew Watson for The Easterner

Andrew Watson for The Easterner

By The Easterner, Editorial Board

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That was the overarching theme of the National College Media Convention, a journalism conference held in Dallas, Texas during the past week. Four members of The Easterner, including two on the editorial board, attended the four-day convention, taking part in hour-long sessions and learning from professionals in the field.

There were four keynote speakers at the conference. This editorial will detail the messages of two, Bob Schieffer and Dale Hansen.

Bob Schieffer is a legendary Washington D.C. CBS reporter who has 60 years of experience in the field and has interviewed every sitting president since Richard Nixon. Schieffer’s main message of his address was as follows: “Journalists aren’t the opposition party. They’re journalists,” said Schieffer. “We are there to give citizens independently gathered information.”

He’s right. With an uptick of individuals screaming “fake news,” journalists are continually being less trusted and viewed in an inferior light. But as Schieffer explained, those few-and-far-between lazy reporters and outlets are ruining the credibility of the journalists truly putting in the leg work to obtain and report worthwhile information.

At the end of the day, that is our job as reporters. To dig below the surface, figure out what is actually happening and inform the masses. And that’s where Dale Hansen’s message comes in. Hansen is a sportscaster for ABC’s Dallas affiliate, WFAA, who recently went viral for his monologue on the NFL and the public’s false perception of kneeling for the national anthem.

His chief point in his keynote address was journalists have a duty: to tell the people what is really going on. In the age we live in, with press releases and sugar-coated information, Hansen stressed that journalists need to not be afraid of power for our society to survive.

“If not us, who will shine a light on the injustices in America?” Hansen asked. “You can’t read about it on whitehouse.gov. Or dallascowboys.com. The day that happens, this country is done.”

To Hansen’s point, journalism alone stands between the people and public relations. And for the masses to really understand what is going on, they need reporters to vet the facts and details, and display it in a product that is both readable and informative. Without us, the message that is received can be controlled by anyone.

Hansen said that unlike his generation, ours actually has a chance to make change in the world. Critical thinking, an important aspect of reporting, is the difference between being an original source and an echo chamber. As student journalists, we are the ones responsible for deciphering information about campus news for student consumption.

As such, both Schieffer and Hansen mentioned that journalism is as important now as it’s ever been, and among the most important professions available. Without us, the public will resort to the press releases and fake news, and will undoubtedly suffer in the process.

“People talk horribly about journalists, but they will miss us when we’re gone”, said Hansen.

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The independent, student-run news site of Eastern Washington University.
Journalism still matters, now more than ever