Today was a crazy day.
As someone who has recently entered the workforce, I know what it’s like to work a full 9-hour day. Now of course I take a lunch break in there, but still – I know what it’s like to have a full list of tasks to do, meetings to attend and work to get done.
But being on this trip takes a different kind of energy.
Today we started by meeting in the metro at 8:15 am. From there we headed to our first stop, C-SPAN. We met with Brian Lamb, the founder and former CEO of C-SPAN. What a treat this was! He was just beyond fantastic. He was so willing to talk and share all of his experiences with us.
I found it interesting – he said that all of the wisdom he can offer us comes down to one word: “money.” Although the Christian in me is hesitant to agree with this word selection, I must admit that this is pretty great advice. So much in life is determined and dictated by the money trail.
I appreciated how realistic Brian was with us about everything from how C-SPAN would have a hard time gaining support if someone tried to found it today rather than in the 1970s to how much rent costs in the District.
After lunch at Pete’s Café on the eastern side of Capitol Hill, we trekked up north to the Pew Research Center. Michael Barthel gave us a captivating presentation on Pew surveys relevant to media and journalism.
One tidbit I took away from his report was that 23% of people admitted to sharing “fake news,” which Barthel defines as “totally made-up news.” This is extremely concerning. While some within this 23% were not aware that they were disseminating false news, it was incredibly alarming to learn that some within that 23% did indeed know that the news they were sharing was fake.
To be honest, I’m not even sure how to respond to that. On one hand, the First Amendment is a beautiful thing that allows us to share what we’d like and what we find to be interesting (to an extent, of course). If we find it entertaining that there’s a story about Trump getting daily manicures while on the campaign trail, even if it’s factually inaccurate, then should we not have the right to share that?
But the consequences of sharing false information, especially in a high-stakes situation like the presidential election, are sometimes severe.
We must be careful with this power.
After a bite to eat at Union Station (pretzel with cheese!), we headed over to the University of California DC building. We met with Frank LoMonte, the executive director. He sure was fun to listen to. Sometimes it is just so entertaining to hear a lawyer speak. I think their brainwaves are just on a different level sometimes (especially a lawyer as educated and as experienced as LoMonte).
We had a chat about how to combat the fact that many private universities do not give freedom of the press to their students (in fact, most public universities don’t either). We talked about how the SPLC is supporting various efforts through its New Voices initiative to aide student journalists in winning legal protection.
LoMonte was also very kind in giving us a quick lowdown on our rights as student journalists and as citizens going into the Inauguration. He also invited us to a SPLC fundraiser tomorrow night. Thank you Mr. LoMonte!
All in all, today was such a blessing. It was full of so many spectacular experiences. Now off to sleep so we can have another incredible day tomorrow.
THIRTY-SIX HOURS UNTIL THE INAUGURATION!