Written by Connor McPherson:
In an age when fake news dominates the media, and democratic government is on a path toward a more authoritarian style, it has never been more crucial for good journalism to expose corruption and give citizens real honest news.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mike Rezendes, who was a key member of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team that exposed the Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal more than a decade ago, came to Fitchburg State April 12 to discuss the relevance of journalism today.
Many politicians have been wary of the media, Rezendes said, because any type of news that holds their integrity up to scrutiny may be detrimental to the plans of action they have laid out for their time in office. Rezendes pointed out that President Reagan’s administration was one of the most notorious to have put heavy restrictions on media, and this has carried through to the Clinton administration, both of the Bush administrations, the Obama administration, and is becoming noticeably more severe during President Trump’s short time in office.
Trump sabotages real-time reporting by using his favorite phrase “fake news.” Rezendes explained that Trump does this in order “to plant so much doubt about what’s factual and not factual that the truth is actually lost, or impossible to discern amid the cacophony of real news and allegations of fake news.” Rezendes talked about how Trump is actually a genius with “insidious purpose” when it comes to covering up the facts.
One major example of this was when National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned after his strong, but undisclosed, ties with Russia were exposed by journalists. During the time this was taking place Trump accused the Obama administration of tapping his phone during the election. The phone-tapping topic became huge news and was covered by every media outlet which, in turn, made the coverage of Flynn disappear. Trump’s accusation was proved to be false information by the Director of the FBI, James Comey, but it created enough of a distraction that Trump’s own actions were not under the scrutiny of the media spotlight.
Media crackdown around the world
“Many reporters have been killed and disappear in Russia frequently,” Rezendes said. He further explained how journalists are now being jailed in Turkey, which comes in combination with the fall of the country’s democracy.
Rezendes finished by urging the audience to subscribe to newspaper’s, read the articles, and keep accountability journalism alive, because it is what the people want and the need for facts over fiction has never been more important.
After the lecture, student and aspiring journalist Peter Kougias said, “In this time it is so important and empowering to keep writing and to stand up for yourself and your beliefs or else no one will.”
Kougias put emphasis on how even if it is not for his own benefit he still wants to be a voice for others. He ended by saying, “Today it is crucial to hold people accountable for their actions. If we bow down then we are victimizing ourselves to leadership that has bullied its way to be in charge.”
For photos of the event you can visit the Fitchburg Sentinel Enterprise website.