A Look on Reporters’ Lives From the Eyes of a Student Journalist


Jessica Ferguson, Editor-in-Chief

In 2018, at least 63 professional American journalists were killed while doing their jobs, which resulted in the United States being added to the most dangerous countries for journalists for the first time. As a high school senior, I am applying to colleges with—surprise!—a major in journalism.

In my hopes to become a journalist, I was really only focused on my love of writing, the responsibility of informing others and the ability to learn new things. Most people go to work or plan their future careers with minimal worry about their safety: accountants, for the most part, do their jobs without fearing for their well-being. Whenever I thought about a dangerous job, an image of a firefighter or a construction worker always came to mind; however, those people are killed because of the nature of their job and are not killed for doing their job. Until recently, I knew that people often critiqued journalists but never thought that they would be in physical harm by just doing their job every day.

Last October, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in Saudi Arabia. And it was not a coincidence that he was a journalist; the Saudi crown prince ordered for his death, the C.I.A. concluded. Khashoggi represents a greater population of those who have been murdered due to their career as a journalist, and serves as a symbolic martyr for journalism in the world right now. Why are people so threatened by journalists, whose jobs are solely to spread the truth? 

Politicians such as President Donald Trump have often referred to journalists and the media as an “enemy of the people” and “downright dishonest.” I would be lying if I said that there are no dishonest journalists; however, in nearly every job field, there are corrupt and untrustworthy people, especially with politicians who lie to make themselves appear more favorable.

Just because people are reporting on unfortunate occurrences does not mean that they are a public enemy or that they are corrupt; it is their job to inform the public on the news, regardless of how happy they are about it. Whether we like it or not, bad things happen in the world, and it is a journalist’s duty to report on it. Last June, five journalists were killed in a shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. Although reporting on this topic must have been difficult because journalists likely feared for their own lives, they still did so. Reporters, for the most part, do not act in their own self-interest but rather the public interest. From my own experience, I of course write stories that I am interested in but always keep in mind what the readership deserves to know and would be interested in knowing about.

With that being said, I often wonder if I am making the right decision by choosing this career path. I feel frustrated because I do not want to feel forced to change my life path because of others’ opinions and actions, yet I wonder if choosing such a path is worth my safety being in jeopardy.

Am I at risk? As dark as it sounds, being aware of the problem is essential to both being in that career and ultimately combating it in the future.

However, I am not content with simply accepting the fact that the American media and the free press are being threatened more than ever before. Although I believe in small actions leading to greater consequences, I also believe that I—an 18-year-old high school journalist—cannot single-handedly make any significant changes in how journalists are viewed and treated. And even if I could, I am unsure as to how I would go about combating this fundamental error.

Despite what critics believe, the majority of reporters write articles because they want to inform people, not hurt them. Once more people come to this realization and understand that most reporters are not trying to attack others but rather spread pertinent information, we will hopefully come to a safer and more united place.

So while I still plan on studying journalism in the next four years, I still worry about the uncertain future for reporters. As a teenager looking to pursue a career in journalism for the rest of my life, I should not have to fear pursuing my passion because other people do not approve of it. We need to work towards achieving safety for journalists, not only in the United States but also in the world as a whole, in any way we can.