Trump era denies journalists free speech

Marketplace journalist Lewis Wallace released a blog post on Jan. 31 entitled “I was fired from my journalism job 10 days into Trump.” Wallace told his story of how he was fired from his job as a consequence of publishing a post on his personal blog, which the company said violated its code of ethics. The blog post was published just days before and was about his experience as a transgender journalist covering modern-day political events.

The most controversial aspect of this post was Wallace’s statement that Trump’s presidency has and will discourage subjectivity in journalism. It is our responsibility to learn from this unfair event, promote free speech and free press, and not let what Wallace referred to in his second blog post as “an administration that’s aggressively promoting fiction” discourage us from promoting opinion and the freedom of speech.

Wallace made a point to recognize that this event occurred just less than two weeks into Trump’s presidency, arguing that we are in a new era of journalism and free speech. Similarly, in her Dec. 26 blog post, Sherry Frost said “false neutrality is propaganda,” suggesting that when opinions are suppressed and remain unshared, the message that results is even more biased and misleading.

In a similar situation, on Jan. 30, National Football League reporter Bart Hubbuch tweeted that he had been fired by the New York Post for having tweeted on his personal Twitter account his “personal belief that Donald Trump becoming President of the United State[s] is a national tragedy.”

Both of these situations bring into question the purpose of journalism. According to the people who did the firing, journalists should report on stories without being too opinionated and not do anything in their personal lives that may come across as controversial. This, of course, also applies to what journalists choose to do on their own time with their personal social media accounts.

It is understandable for American Public Media, the owner of Marketplace, to be distressed by an employee writing and publishing a piece that has the potential to draw negative attention to their company. As a news source, however, they have an obligation to show not only what is politically correct, but also the real effects that the government has on its people, no matter what the repercussions may be.

Whether or not these events are directly associated with Trump’s presidency remains unclear. It is obvious, though, that we cannot become afraid and unjustly end the career of any journalist who speaks up and says something that may be interpreted as controversial. We must fight to keep the freedom of speech and opinion alive.

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Robin is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected].

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