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The District Sleeps Alone Tonight.

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.


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“Donald Trump.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, all of my previous blog post titles have been either song names, or have made references to songs. Conveniently, there is a song simply titled, “Donald Trump” by Mac Miller and I thought it was a fitting title, with us attending the Inauguration today.

Wow, what a day. It was surreal. I know it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an incredible opportunity to witness. The magnitude of this event was not lost on me; it was truly history unfolding in front of me.

Yet it was nothing like I expected, although I did not know what to fully anticipate what was going to happen.

Surprisingly, the event was fairly mild. Inside the inauguration, people who support Donald Trump were lining up in front of the Capitol to see what the now-president would say in his acceptance speech as he agreed to take on the responsibilities of the highest office in the United States.

Trump’s speech was not really outstanding by any means, and it heavily relied on campaign zingers to energize the crowd. But it worked. The inside crowd mainly consisted of people who support Trump who collectively booed when Democrats Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer made an appearance to the event. I did expect a lot more opposition to Trump inside the crowd, but it was mainly supporters.

The President ended his speech with “Make America Great Again!” The crowd erupted in response. He promised to put “America first” in all of the proposals that his administration will put in front of congress.

The most shocking thing about today was not the speech, which was typical, nothing outrageous or special.

It was the fact that I could go to the inauguration and see thousands of people so on fire for Trump, turn around and go to the streets to see people so vehemently against him.

Thousands of protesters, however, converged on the streets of 12th and K in Washington D.C. The protests got so intense and violent that law enforcement unleashed tear gas grenades to subdue the protesters. We made a dash for the hostel, made it and the next thing I was writing recaps for local newspaper outlets. It’s all kind of a blur.

Even though I was literal opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of complete joy and happiness to utter devastation. But I think that is what makes this country beautiful.

For example, I think we as American citizens, we must appreciate our willing, complete and peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. No other country can say the same thing.

Also, on a conclusive note, I believe firmly in the first amendment of the constitution, the ability to voice our opinions and thoughts freely and express them completely. Each and every opinion, not just ones that we agree with. That is the foundation of our nation and we must respect it.

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New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down…

Today was our first full day in Washington D.C., and what a wonderfully beautiful city it is!
We saw a fair many historical sights, such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and both the Vietnam War and Korean War memorials.
Aside from seeing all of the history around us, I was very encouraged today because I feel like I can thrive in this city, more so than New York City.

Before I came on this trip, I would’ve have said that I would love to live in NYC, attend graduate school, and start my career in media there. Having never been there before, I romanticized the city. I now realize that I may have jumped ahead of myself a bit.

It is very hard city for me to get around in and some of the media meetings we attended were discouraging because all of the professionals said there is an obvious lack of diversity in media today and it is difficult to break into because of that fact.
So New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.
Although we haven’t started attending any meetings yet because we’ve just arrived, I cannot help but feel a positive and encouraging vibe in this city. I am excited for our visits to NPR and the Pew Research Center probably the most, so my anticipation is building for those visits.
To be here in D.C. for Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well is also a rare privilege. I can feel the enthusiasm in the air as we approach the day that celebrates such a courageous and amazing man who did so much for our country, by starting the process of breaking down racial and social barriers. As a country, we have progressed so far because of the Civil Rights Movement, but still have a long way to go toward racial equality. I could go on and on about MLK Jr. because I admire him so much. Needless to say, I am more than enthusiastic for tomorrow. We plan to go to both the parade and memorial tomorrow to commemorate him. I will probably cry.
Lastly, of course, what a time to be here in the capital city. This is inauguration week. Regardless of my political leanings or feelings, this is simply history and I am blessed to witness it. All of us are.

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Themes from New York, New York.

Today we visited Penguin Random House, which is one of the largest book publishing companies in the United States. The visit was informative and the staff members were open and willing to speak with us and answer our questions, and it was intriguing to know how PRH operates from the top down.
I was excited by the entirety of the publishing process, from brainstorming, pitching and editing all the way to marketing the final product. Additionally, I was interested to know how PRH chooses an author to partner with.
While it was interesting to engage with some of the other aspects of media, advertising and public relations, I cannot say that I felt particularly encouraged after the visit.

One of the things that immediately stuck out to me was the fact that book publishing is a money-driven enterprise, something that was readily admitted to us by the staff members who spoke with us.

While I certainly understand that companies need to make money, I was surprised to hear that publishers are seemingly unwilling to confront larger societal issues regarding equality of representation and diversity in the book publishing business as well as the entire “media” at large.

The staff members themselves even said that this business actually allows the perpetuation and dominance of “similar voices.” So I was slightly discouraged to hear something like that. I was even more put off by the fact that book publishing companies like PRH are not doing much, particularly in regard to initiatives, to remedy the lack of voices and stories being heard and shared.

Although I do not exactly envision myself publishing a book (at least in the near future), there is no excuse for the lack of publishing of diverse authors.

Furthermore, I am sick of the response along the lines of “that’s just the way it is.” That does not mean it’s not wrong and does not need to be changed.

On a the bright side, however, the meeting PRH only gave me a renewed desire to become a part of the media in some way. The media needs people like me who tell diverse stories and bring unique gifts and talents to the table, a fresh perspective.

The meeting with the staff members informed my beliefs that these trends of white, middle-aged male dominance cannot be allowed to continue in book publishing or the media at large, and I will do my best to tell my story through my experiences.

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N.Y. State of Time.

Wow, what a wonderful first week in the city that never sleeps. I am so blessed and privileged to be able to attend this media impact trip for Whitworth University 2017.

So far, we have visited five media organizations in New York, the very first being the New York Times, the largest media operation in the city.

As if it already wasn’t intimidating enough for a young aspiring communication professional in media central, right?

We had the privilege of meeting with the head of the graphics department, named Kevin.

Although Kevin had a lot of insight and inspiration for young people who want to succeed in this field, and explained how the Times operates (in terms of creating, producing and distributing content) I think the most impactful piece of advice he shared with us is to “become a numerate journalist.”

By that he meant we should diversify our portfolios as much as possible and dive into and learn a variety of skills – such as programming and coding, web development and statistics – to have the best chance of success as a journalist.

For me, personally, this hit me the hardest, for two reasons: 1) Because the other organizations that we have visited thus far have said similar sentiments (for example, both The Smoking Gun and Bloomberg executives said that “journalism is the most important thing to be doing right now”). And so I think that all of the messages shared by the other organizations are encapsulated by the New York Times’ “become a numerate journalist” sentiment. With so many ways to get our message across and reach a vast audience – like print, video and social media – a journalist must be willing to and have the knowledge and skills to adapt to our ever-evolving world, particularly in technology. There is a lot of variety in the way we communicate and as young communication professionals, we should be looking for ways to engage many people of diverse backgrounds and it excites me that every day we will get to do something different and tell a new story.

The second reason it hit me was because with so many outlets now to communicate with the masses, anyone can be a journalist, which makes it even more important for professionals to seek truth, always.

I think that’s extremely important, and it is why I want to become a communication professional: the media have a tremendous power and opportunity to educate and inform the masses and reach millions of people and with that comes a responsibility to ensure that information is true and accurate.

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