The Daily Aztec

Editorial: Journalism layoffs put democracy in danger

by The Editorial Board

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The fourth estate, once again, is at stake.

This last week was extremely disappointing and discouraging for journalists in the United States. Around 1,000 journalists were laid off by BuzzFeed and other media organizations owned by Gannett and Verizon, such as the Huffington Post, due to budget cuts.

Reporters with years of experience holding those in power accountable and journalists covering issues in minority communities were left jobless, and the president used it as an opportunity to say “I told you so.”

“Fake News and bad journalism have caused a big downturn. Sadly, many others will follow. The people want the Truth!” president Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 26.

Besides ignoring the importance of journalism, he disregards the simple fact that journalists are people and Americans, too. People who are in debt, need to support their families, pay bills and not to mention, people who have just lost their jobs.

This is not the time for the leader of our country to say “I was right.”

These layoffs not only affect those who were let go. They don’t only affect journalists across the country. They affect communities that are voiceless, underrepresented and want and deserve the truth.

And that is something many fail to understand.

Carolina Moreno, a former Latino Voices Editor for the Huffington Post covering issues in the Latino community, was let go. She has focused on covering the effects Hurricane Maria has had on families in Puerto Rico, and most recently, she reported on studies that showed how anti-immigrant rhetoric has hurt the health of Latino families.

Through her reporting, she was representing a community that is often ignored.

Chris McDaniel, a former investigative reporter with BuzzFeed, who was one of many let go, recently reported on inmates who claimed the Texas execution drugs burned before they died.

Whatever the president and others may think of investigative journalists, they are the people who keep our leaders accountable. Do we really want government officials to do whatever they want without someone around to keep an eye on their doings?

The Huffington Post obliterated its opinion section this past week. This is particularly disheartening considering the fact that the opinion section of any news outlet is one of the most important sections in the paper.

Particularly for marginalized communities who have been subjugated for centuries, but have experienced a significant increase in violence since 2016, where attacks against women, people of color, LGBTQ folk and muslims have spiked.

The unique experiences minority communities endure make opinion sections so critical to a newspaper’s value. It serves as a necessary space for vulnerability and education. Their stories and perspectives mobilize people throughout the country to take action and make a difference.

Additionally, they shed light on stories that need to be heard. They encourage us to hold powerful institutions and elected officials accountable. Chipping away at opinion sections mean we lose valuable perspectives, and we miss out on critical information.

Tyler Kingkade, a former reporter at BuzzFeed who was let go, wrote his last piece on Jan. 28 about a high school in Indiana that banned student journalists from covering the arrest of a classmate who had been accused of assault and harassment.

The article included an interview with Ed Clere, a Republican member in the Indiana House of Representatives, who has attempted to pass a bill to prevent censorship of student media.

“In today’s atmosphere, when journalism and journalists are under attack, we need student journalism more than ever,” he told BuzzFeed News. “They can approach stories on a unique and meaningful level and get to stories that other journalists can’t get to.”

When we at The Daily Aztec are submitting public records requests and pushing to get interviews with administrators and faculty, it is not to bother nor attack the university. It’s because our communities matter to us, and we want to ensure they are being represented.

Let’s face it, journalists definitely do not choose to pursue this career because of the money. We do it because we care to create change. These layoffs affect us all. And nobody should be using it as a chance for a juvenile clapback.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Editorial: Journalism layoffs put democracy in danger”

  1. Frank Davis on January 30th, 2019 12:55 pm

    “News” organizations have been declining for years. Fake news is rampant,and the public holds the media in lower esteem than politicians. Yet you blame it on Trump? Good god the delusion never ends. Buzz feed is not a legitimate news organization; their two latest fake news episodes show they do not need to exist.

    Ditch the agenda, do legitimate reporting and you’ll be alright. Be a leftwing rag and you’ll be laid off too.

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