Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the media has faced major criticism, prompting journalists and readers alike to voice their concerns. On Wednesday, in the Old University Union, a panel discussed writing as a form of activism and the media’s role in driving change.
The event, titled “The Press and the People,” was hosted by Democracy Matters, a student organization that encourages students to get involved in politics and activism and aims to drive big money out of the political process.
Organizer Grace Clark, a member of Democracy Matters and a junior double-majoring in philosophy and sociology, stated that the event was designed to give students the tools necessary to write down their viewpoints effectively.
“We are anticipating a lot of students who are coming will want to know how to write letters to the editor, blog and [write] other forms of activism,” Clark said. “We want to give them the opportunity to ask questions and get advice on ways they can get involved.”
Panelists at the event included Nadiya Al-Noor, a special programs assistant at the Center for Civic Engagement and a first-year graduate student studying public administration; Zachary Frieden, vice president of the Roosevelt Institute and a sophomore majoring in political science; and Caleb Schwartz, the opinions editor of Pipe Dream and a sophomore double-majoring in environmental studies and political science.
Frieden said he agreed to participate in the panel because he felt the press was important, especially in the current political climate.
“It’s especially important nowadays that we have writers who can speak their views adequately,” Frieden said. “That’s why I’m here to share my experience and how students can get their voice heard.”
Questions posed to the panel ranged from general advice about voicing beliefs to queries on how to get media outlets to report on an event. One student asked about the use of social media in promoting events and sharing articles. Al-Noor said that social media was a great way to be heard, but warned attendees that they may find that others disagree with them.
“Most people get information from social media,” Al-Noor said. “Take advantage of it and get your writing out there. There are going to be people who disagree with you, but try and get as many people involved as possible.”
Panelists also advised attendees to be vigilant about what they read and ensure that they are taking in information from multiple outlets and viewpoints. Finally, they encouraged students to start writing with a purpose and sharing their thoughts with others.
“Aim big,” Al-Noor said. “Just because you’re a student, it doesn’t mean you’re voiceless. If you’re passionate about something, go out and try to get published.”
Attendees like Jacob Hanna, an undeclared freshman, said he hoped to find ways to support his views in his writing and drive sociopolitical change.
“I am here to support the group and learn about the role of writing in activism,” Hanna said. “I am an academic writer, so I think I can learn skills I can use in my writing to support progressive ideals.”
Jacob Chank, a sophomore majoring in political science, said that he supported the vision of Democracy Matters and wanted to become more engaged in activism.
“I really appreciate the fight for citizen advocacy and activism that Democracy Matters supports,” Chank said. “I just hope to learn more about the basis of advocacy and making my voice heard in government.”
Editor’s note: Caleb Schwartz is the opinions editor of Pipe Dream and did not have any input on this article.