As this is my fifth and final blog post to wrap up my experience on Whitworth’s “Media Impact” trip of 2017, I’d like to start with a round of “thank you’s.” Thank you, Whitworth administration and Study Abroad Program for offering such a wonderful opportunity for communication students to study the importance and impact of media on contemporary US society, as well as attend the 58th Presidential Inauguration.
Thank you, Kevin, for your willingness to take us on this trip and all of your hard work this month. Thank you for coordinating all of our meetings, travel, room and transportation arrangements, and for assembling such a fantastic group of students to participate on this trip. I know that this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Just to be in New York and Washington D.C. during this particular time was a treat. And a lot of the executives that we met with talked about the relationship, however tumultuous, between politics and the media and discussed whether one fed into the other or not. Thus, we were left to ponder if, to some degree, the constant media coverage of Donald Trump was responsible for his election as president. It was also interesting to hear the media executives talk about what they expect from the Trump administration, in terms of the future of the media.
Lastly, I personally loved how every media organization said that there is a lack of diverse voices in media today. This will not do, and all of the media institutions we visited recognized that, which is powerful. However, I was slightly discouraged and disappointed that not all of the organizations we went to wanted to do something about it, such as Penguin Random House, whose staff simply stated that the problem was systematic and there was nothing to do about it. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.
I disagree that there is “nothing we can do” about systematic issues, so that is why PRH was my least favorite visit of the trip. Because there is something that we all can do about the problems we see in society. That was evidenced by yesterday’s Women’s March in D.C., the largest protest in US history, upwards of 2 million strong voices. What a time to be alive and to have been able to witness and be a part of it. I am truly honored. It is not everyday that I witness history being made two days in a row.
While it is hard to pick my absolute favorite visit of the trip, I really appreciated our time with both CPJ and WNET. I love the work that CPJ does for journalists to ensure that they are safe and protected wherever they go; CPJ does its best to protect journalists and is an organization guided by sound ethical principles. In our visit with the head of WNET, she said something that struck me: she let her ethics dictate her career decisions, and is now where she wants to be. I think that was real powerful and it was encouraging to hear that we, as aspiring media professionals, do not have to sell our souls to do so. It was just a reminder that I will not have to sacrifice who I am to do what I love – I like that.
I touched on the inauguration in my last post, but I’ll do so again, just briefly to conclude this post.
Honestly, Inauguration Day and the Women’s March Day are a blur in my mind and I’m still trying to process each day fully. I will most likely do so in my term paper. Spoiler alert. For now, I’ll say that it was absolutely insane to witness so many thousands of people who supported Trump so strongly during his campaign. People who felt that they could finally celebrate his victory and own it.
Then, to turn around and run into protests on the streets of people so against our new president, and seeing tear gas clouds cover the air. And to get published in two different newspapers about my experience and calling into a radio station to give my account of the events; to participating in the historical Women’s March, it all happened so fast.
But, perhaps, after all of the commotion of the weekend’s events, the District can sleep alone tonight. Free from distraction… Maybe.