Opinion: No one cares about mine

Fake news has run rampant, dividing nations, influencing elections and overall just causing havoc. But honestly, the fact that journalism is under so much attack just proves my point further that no one is going into journalism without being passionate about the importance of it. (Photo illustration by Decker Westenburg)

It’s true. No one cares about my opinion.

I am a reporter, so my opinion does not matter in the slightest, because news isn’t supposed to have opinion in it. And I am OK with that!

If all I wanted to do was share my opinions, I would have run for office.

Let me fill you in on a secret from a journalist: We know our opinion doesn’t matter.

The truth is, we journalists don’t care that no one cares about our opinions. Because that’s not why we are writing in the first place.

No one goes into the journalism field wanting to share their opinion. (Well, political talk show commentators aside, but let’s be real, they don’t count as journalists and they do not apply in this situation.)

Everyone who goes into the journalism field does so because they believe, deep down to their cores, that people have a right to be informed. And that without being informed, democracy, freedom and the foundation of society would collapse.

We don’t want our personal stories or opinions heard. We just want to write the stories of others.

We value the freedom of the press so much because if that gets taken away, then people can’t be informed. And if people don’t know facts, they can’t make their own decisions: They can’t govern themselves. If we can’t think for ourselves, then all the freedom and rights the Founding Fathers fought for means nothing.

Growing up I always thought journalism was a noble life path to take. I dreamed of one day seeking out the unheard, giving voice to the voiceless, exposing corruption in society and changing the world for the better like Katherine Plumber/Pulitzer did in “Newsies,” AKA the best musical ever made.

But at some point along the way, being a journalist became shameful. A distrusted and all-around looked-down-upon career.

Granted, there have been plenty of scandals and mistakes in the news.

Newspapers started out with yellow journalism in the late 1800s with Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, where headlines were exaggerated just to get more papers sold. Stories weren’t always accurate and catered toward whoever was paying the bills. Today, clickbait is used incessantly in the digital journalism world. Fake news has run rampant, dividing nations, influencing elections and overall just causing havoc.

Plus it doesn’t help when multiple news organizations definitely don’t write as objectively as they claim they do and so many have taken to listening to podcasts, social media, influencers and talk show hosts to get their “reliable” news of the day from someone who definitely doesn’t have the credentials to be an expert.

I used to be so proud to say I wanted to study journalism. Now, I get very differing responses when I say my major:

“Why the heck would you go into journalism?” Well, because I believe in the power of being informed.

“Oh, so you just want to be a stay-at-home mom?” Although there is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom, I absolutely am going to have a career and I am not sure why you assumed I wouldn’t just because of my major.

“I don’t trust the mainstream media.” The phrase “mainstream media” is thrown out in the open so much that I am starting to think people don’t actually know what it means, but if you are media literate then it isn’t the end of the world when you run into a biased article because you should know how to read it and not be influenced.

“You would be such a good TV personality!” Thank you, but I am a journalist, not an actress.

And my absolute favorite response: “What are you going to do with a degree in journalism?” I am sorry, but is it not clear enough in the name “journalism” that I want to be a journalist?

I get it, journalism is not as praiseworthy as it used to be, and some might argue it never was deserving of praise in the first place.

But honestly, the fact that journalism is under so much attack just proves my point further that no one is going into journalism without being passionate about the importance of it. No student is willingly putting themselves through years of studying, getting hate and criticism along the way, to just go out into the world and purposefully try to deceive or be biased.

Speaking from my experience in BYU’s journalism program, every person there is in that program because they believe in the power of information.

I have been writing for The Daily Universe for almost two years now, and in that time I have been called a Gadianton robber, a puppet of Biden, a censored conservative who can’t talk about any “real” problems, a Trump lover, a racist, a liberal sheep who has drunk the Kool-Aid and overall hundreds of insults about being biased.

The Daily Universe and I are constantly under fire for “being biased” just because we wrote about specific topics. I wrote an article about Rainbow Day on campus and suddenly became, in the eyes of many, a crazy liberal promoting doctrine against the Church, just for writing a simple event story that involved the gay community. On the other end of the spectrum, I wrote an article about how raising minimum wage would cause major difficulties for small Provo businesses and got backlash for being a fiscal, heartless capitalist conservative who doesn’t care about workers.

Just because a news organization writes about a topic that is typically coded toward one political party does not mean that story is inherently promoting that viewpoint or the story is biased.

For example, someone once told me because we had an AP wire story about President Biden making changes to the Bears Ears Monument, we were liberally biased. Biden is the president, and he made changes to a monument only a few hours away from Provo … of course we were going to report on it! Just a few years prior, because of the same reasons, we wrote a an article about Trump making changes to Bears Ears. I mean, he was the president and what he did impacted our state, so again, of course we were going to report on it. Writing about those events is not biased, it is just news on the president.

Sometimes people claim bias, but in reality, they just are not media literate enough to understand that the content isn’t actually skewed one way or another, it just expresses facts or opinions that go against their own preconceived worldview.

But despite the barrage of hate, the immediate distrust and the inevitable claims of bias, I am proud to say I will be graduating with a degree in journalism. I know I am in this industry for the right reasons. I know I am not doing this to raise myself up or get my voice heard.

I am a journalist because I believe everyone needs to be able to think for themselves and make their own conclusions, even if their conclusions are against me and my own beliefs.

You can think whatever you want of me and you can have your reasons to distrust the mainstream media. (Luckily, The Daily Universe isn’t exactly mainstream media, so I am not included in that yet.)

But if you immediately distrust absolutely everything about the information you consume, that is a sad life full of no learning, no growing and no thinking through things with reliable information. Be brave enough to sort through the plethora of information that is thrown at you every minute of every day and sift out what’s true.

So don’t trust me. Don’t care about my opinion. Whatever your opinion of me is, I genuinely don’t care.

You can hate me and the rest of the journalism world, but we don’t care.

All we care about is the power of information and giving that power to as many people as possible. Even if they don’t want to accept it, I will never stop fighting to give people accurate, fair and truthful reporting on the things that matter most in this life.

— Cassidy Wixom
Editor in Chief

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