The Power or Problem of the People: The Role of Citizen Journalism

Guest Post: Haley Veres, student journalist

When I see a protest of the president-elect or an arrest being made on Marquette’s campus, my first thought is never to take out my phone and shoot video. However, it is those who think to whip out their cell phones that make history.

It was Rakeyia Scott’s cell phone video that was the catalyst for protests and advocacy for the Black Lives Matter movement. Like philosopher Immanuel Kant, Rakeyia Scott believed in her intentions of filming her husband’s confrontation with police. Even when her husband was shot, Rakeyia Scott continued to shoot video with the intention of sharing this story. Her actions sparked protests, and the story made national news, which, I believe, she did not imagine when began taking video on her phone. She intended to show how police, especially considering the news coverage of African American men who have been shot by police, confronted her husband.

oneslidephotography-comHowever, had I been in Rakeyia Scott’s position, I would have highly considered the consequences of such a video being recorded. Who would see this video, and how would they respond? Could this video trigger protest and spread like wildfire on social media? How would those who see the video view my partner? What lasting effects could this video have on my family, my community, and my partner’s memory? I would compare myself to philosopher John Stuart Mill and his views on consequentialism. Even if I had good intentions in shooting a video or taking a picture of a newsworthy event, if there could be undesirable consequences, I may not engage in the situation.

Every person who has the ability to shoot video or take pictures has a great responsibility and power especially as citizen journalists. The problem is a person’s ethical mindset when making the decision to start recording. Do they consider their personal intentions in the affair or the consequences of their actions, or is their moral conscience undermined by the split-second decision to shoot pictures and video? The citizen journalist must use a moral thought process, whether they consider their action’s intentions or their action’s consequences. Their voice can have as much power or influence over others as a professional reporter or journalist. As much as we hold professional journalists and reporters responsible for ethical and unbiased news stories, we have to hold citizen journalists such as Rakeyia Scott to the same standards.

While moral deliberation seems time-consuming when news is unfolding before you, it is your responsibility as a citizen journalist to understand the ethical implications of the photos you take or the video you shoot.

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Dear President-Elect Trump

My students want to speak to you. And so I offered them a chance. Some are Media Ethics students. Others are studying Brand Planning. All have analyzed how the election unfolded. All come to you with the will to trust. Some arrive in great pain.

So here are 16 letters. Please be their president too.

President-Elect Trump,

Thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to be strong, for helping me realize it is important to stand in solidarity with a cause and for the people you made feel marginalized and silenced, for inspiring me to love rather than to hate, and for giving me more fuel to burn my path as a proud woman.

Now.

Now through the response we are seeing nationwide post your winning this presidential race, I hope going forward that you can learn from us.
Make America great again, show me that you respect and want to protect our people; all of them, and our freedoms that are provided via the Constitution.

You can only show me through what you do, because you have taught me not to believe what you say. I am of the opposition— earn my respect.

Amber Russell

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Dear President-Elect,

I can’t name one reason why I should accept you as the 45th president of the U.S. You have offended myself, loved ones and any/every minority living in and outside the United States of America. However, I have to hope that you succeed in your position of power because if you fail we all go down together.

As president, I hope you change your attitude towards Hispanics living in America. They are not all illegal. They are not all smuggling drugs across our boarders. They are people. Please give them the same respect you give white males. As president, I hope you change your attitude towards women. We are not only good for sex. We are not less intelligent than men. We are people. Please give us the same respect you give white males. As president, I hope you change your attitude towards African Americans. They are not all criminals. They are not all uneducated. They are people. Please give them the same respect you give white males. As president, I hope you change your attitude towards the LGBTQ community. They are not just confused and cannot be changed. The love they may have for their partner is no less than a heterosexual person has for their partner. They are people.  Please give them the same respect you give white males.

I ask that you stop focusing on deportation and a wall, and start focusing on real issues we have in our country such as education, the environment, the gap in our social class and equality. If you can do this, then I believe our country can come together. If our country can come together we achieve greatness as one nation.

Peace & Love,

A Worried Citizen

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

As the next President of the United States I expect you to…

  • Right the wrongs you made during the election season.
  • Address the American citizens to ease their worried minds. You are now the face of our country and that is a face of several different individuals such as Muslims, women and several others, respect that.
  • Drop your VP and choose another individual that actually has a soul.
  • Learn, care, practice empathy.
  • Stop inappropriately talking about and touching your daughter and all other women.
  • Do the opposite of what you did during the election season.
  • Not to reverse the strides that President Obama and VP Biden have done for our country, such as Obamacare and sexual assault prevention on college campuses.
    • Actually, talk to VP Biden and ask him to inform you on sexual assault, you could learn a few things.
  • Be a decent human being.
  • Don’t take our country back 50 years, take us forward.
  • Pay your taxes.
  • We know you have no idea what you are doing so take advice from political leaders who do, from all sides and parties.
  • Don’t take our country into war.
  • Do not completely shut out refugees. We need to help them because they are not as lucky as we are. Educate yourself about their struggles. Empathize and help them.
    • Never compare them to Skittles again.
  • Delete your Twitter account.
  • Don’t you dare think to run for re-election. You’re lucky you even get 4 years.

You have committed too many wrong doings. I, as well as several other Americans will never support you or forgive you for bringing out the worst in this country. We will count down the days your term is over and we will work to change the uneasiness you have put upon so many Americans. Do better. Be better.

Sincerely,

JC Diaz

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Dear President-Elect Donald Trump,

We need a leader who can represent the best of our country. One who recognizes our country’s weaknesses and strives to make it whole. One who’s focus is centered on making good for people in our country, and especially around the world. Speak with your heart and with truth.

I expect you to be a true example of what it means to be American. Our nation’s kids are watching and being influenced by you now. Speak consciously and with wisdom.

Do good for our country and the world that we are in communion with. Millions of people are now reliant on you to represent them. Prove to us that you can lead.

From a concerned citizen,

Ben Dombrowski

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Dear President- Elect Donald Trump,

Congratulations on your recent victory in the 2016 election. Unfortunately, majority of Americans are not viewing this as a victory, more as a fear of life. I have already seen changes in your messaging since you have been elected on your twitter account and different articles on the web. It made me very happy to see that you are for gay rights and were holding a LGBT Flag. I also saw your tweet that said, “Love the fact that the small groups of protestors last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!” I hope that you truly stick to your word on coming together as one and uniting.  It is more important than ever now to gain the trust of those who fear you and prove to them you can truly make America great again in a positive way.

Best of luck to you and I looked forward to seeing what you accomplish in office.

Sincerely,

Justine Moran

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

As you prepare to take on the presidency and become the face of our nation, I ask you begin with an open mind and a heart of acceptance. Our country is in a great divide right now, and with many living in fear, I ask you do your part to promote respectful dialogue among people. As a woman, I ask you treat women with the utmost respect and speak of them as human beings, not objects. I ask you are inclusive to ALL religions. I ask you recognize and give a voice to the marginalized. I ask you speak with rhetoric of hope, optimism, acceptance, and inclusiveness, so that as a country we can come together. Most of all, I ask you be a president for ALL Americans—no matter class, religion, social status, physical ability, appearance, gender, culture, and background.

Kyra Strutzel

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Dear President-Elect Donald Trump,

I expect a lot from you.  You are the next President of the United States of America, and I hope that truly means as much to you as it does to so many American citizens.  I expect you to NOT be a racist and sexist bigot, as you have been at times in the recent past.  I also expect you to put together a plan to fix the corrupt government we have at this moment.  Lastly, I expect you to prove me and so many other American citizens wrong.  Be a good President, and help fix this country many of us so dearly love.  God bless.

Sincerely,

The American people

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

As you know, you are now the captain of this flight. As a passenger aboard, it is silly for me to doubt my captain and not have faith that he will land this plane safely. But before you land this plane, we must all take off in unity in order to get to the same destination.

As you embark on this journey, I hope that you remember actions speak louder than words. We have heard you speak, now please, take action and mend this broken nation. As you represent the American people, it is imperative that you demonstrate how two individuals can have completely different views, but still be kind to one another. It is the freedom to have these individual views that allows for this country to be so desirable.

Lead by showing respect to the American citizens. Lead by showing respect to ALL American citizens, and please, land this plane safely.

An American Citizen,

Jenna M. Doherty

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Dear President Elect Trump,

I think it is safe to say that you are someone who is blunt and speaks his or her mind. I think this is respectable to an extent. I do think at times that your messages sometimes go overboard. I understand and like your mission of change, however, change doesn’t have to come at the expense of unification. Now that you have won, I think you are in position to change how many people feel about our country. People are afraid of this change that you preach and I think that you can agree that you would never want your people to be in fear of anything. Going forward I would like to expect that you comfort those you are fearful, that you reassure them that you are THEIR president. I think that your final ads spoke of great unification with minorities and working class people and I would love to see this be reflected in your presidency.

Robbie Pisano

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

Congratulations. Not quite sure how this happened, but you managed to win the election. On Tuesday, I thought to myself, “Hillary won the popular, there is no way Trump will win.” I know my vote is only one, but there are thousands of people who thought the same thing then and are kicking themselves because of the shocking outcome Tuesday night.

My dad told me the last thing we want is to tell people “I told you so.” Wanting Trump to fail is like wanting the pilot to crash the plan you are on.

You have a lot of damage control to do with the things you have said and done. It will not be easy by any means, but all I can offer you is an open mind because that is the only option I have left.

Good luck,

Amanda Hermsen

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

A poem for my president who is for women…

He endorses respect, thoughtfulness, and chivalry.

He showers compliments because she’s beautiful… even as she’s weeping.

She may scream, she may cry, she may withhold you from your sleep.

At times her emotion seems toxic.

But she’s the keys, that maintain our strength.

These women pick our future by bearing children by the bunch.

Don’t bring up “big.”  Don’t name call “pig.”

You’ve blasted, and talked enough.

My president speaks kindness.

He breaks down stigmas.

He thinks before acting on his gut.

And at the end of the day, and all in all, women with dreams?

Greater. Than. Their bust.

My president is for women, current-elect Donald Trump.

Drew Albrecht

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Dear President-elect Donald J. Trump,

You have a chance to truly make America great again. A divided nation stands before you looking for answers. A leader is needed to help all American citizens feel safe in a country full of hate and greed. I do believe you want the same and I remain optimistic for this country.

Like it or not, social issues have become more important than the economy or foreign relations. More specifically, the country is afraid. The uncertainty of your policy choices on immigration, race, sexual preference or orientation and gender are what divides this nation. Your presidency will require you to make decisions on these issue. It will not go away.

The word “American” does not have race, religion, ethnicity or whatever attached to it. An American is all who proudly lives in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I hope you can see the America the people truly want. I pray for you and this country. God Bless and make America United again.

Matt Angel

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

I have one request: I hope that you listen to your opponents’ supporters. You represent them, too, and I don’t want you to forget that. There are lots of us and we will not be silenced. We will fight to uphold the progress we have made and possibly lost through this election.

To be honest, I do not like you. I don’t believe you respect people, particularly the marginalized. I don’t believe your policies will benefit our country. And I don’t believe you were the right choice for president. But I sincerely hope that you prove me wrong and do right by every citizen of this country.

Best of luck,

Claire Meyers

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

As the President for these next four years, some of the most significant years of my life, I fully expect you to make America even better.

As the next President, I hope you run this country and its people with more respect than you did during your campaign. As a young American woman, I hope that you can prove me wrong. I hope that you can prove that you are better than the things that you were quoted saying and the actions that you were accused of, particularly in regards to women.

As the next President, I expect you to fight for and be a champion for all Americans. This includes, but is not limited to, respecting and fighting for the LGBTQ+ community, minorities, and women.

Thank you.

Molly Gaughan

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

Congratulations on winning the presidential election. I wanted to let you know there were some things that you talking about in the process of campaigning that I wouldn’t agree on, but now that you are president I think you should try and listen to the people that voted for, as well as the people who didn’t, to make America a better place.

I think you should apologize to people that are not American, as well as those of us who are Americans, for the racist comments you made because some of the things you said were very offensive to us. As the president, I think it is important that you remember you represent everyone in the country. I am disappointed that the things you have said have made racism normal in our country. This is not acceptable.

Jajuan Johnson

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Dear President-Elect Trump,

I’m not quite old enough to remember, but something tells me this isn’t the traditional reaction to an election. Shouldn’t we be celebrating as a nation as we elect new leadership, hopeful for change? Instead, grief rings louder than any celebration I’ve seen.

I hope the responsibility of this changes you. I hope that the thousands of children who are scared to go to school because of your rhetoric write you letters that break your heart as you read them. I also hope you step forward sooner rather than later and denounce the hate speech and crimes that you’ve incited from coast to coast. You’ve lit fires of hatred across the nation – the first test of your leadership.

Good luck.

Olivia Bohringer

When Is Enough, Enough?

Guest Post: Paige McDonald, Aspiring Strategic Communications Professional

Like a large majority of other women, I could go on forever about how much it disgusts me that Donald Trump not only SPOKE of sexually assaulting another human being, but BRAGGED about it. Truly, the sound of his voice on that tape haunts me to a degree that makes my skin crawl and my stomach flip. Unfortunately, there are a number of women in my life whom I hold very close to my heart, who have been victims of the kinds of sexual assault that a potential future leader of our country boasted about. These women are strong, intelligent, courageous, and beautiful, and they were left to feel weak, ashamed, and powerless. As I sat and watched the tape that the Washington Post released of Donald Trump on October 7th, I thought of these women. I thought of how undeserved their pain and their strife on their road to recovery was. A road that they never wanted to or planned on taking. A road that seemed to have an endless number of “no outlet” signs. Then, I thought of the countless number of other women who have been forced to go through the same exact thing, often times simply because they are a woman. This is when I truly reached my breaking point. Time and time again throughout my mere 21 years of life, I have watched women of all kinds be made to feel as if their sole sense of worth can and should be found in the way that they look and the body that they possess.

I have a mother who divorced my unemployed, alcoholic father and raised my sister and I in a two-bedroom apartment on a retail salary. She gave us a roof over our heads when we very well could have been left without one. She endured undeserved anger from both of her daughters who did not understand why their family had been torn apart. She taught me the value of hard work and what it means to be part of a family.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in the curve of her waist?

I have an aunt who radiates unconditional love and has never put herself first. I watched her as she took care of her father when he became too tired and frail to do it himself. I watched her sneak groceries into my family’s kitchen when money was extra tight, but never search for any recognition. I watched her show love and support to any and every person who is lucky enough to know her without ever demanding anything in return.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in her dress size?

I have a sister who is braver, stronger, and more vigilant than anyone else that I know. She taught me the importance of standing up for myself, but also how much more important it is to stand up for the people that we love. She made feel courageous in the face of conflict when nobody else could, and there are few feelings as important as feeling worth standing up for.

How could anyone look at her and say that her value as a person is in her long legs?

To me, Donald Trump is the face of these problems. He is the face that I associate with women all over the world not feeling good enough because they aren’t what the media tells them is worthwhile. He is the face that I associate with women being afraid to “drink too much at a party” for fear of being taken advantage of. He is the face that I associate with not feeling safe to walk alone at night on the streets of any city simply because I am a woman.

While the relentless media coverage of candidates throughout the election process becomes draining, to me, this is what it is here for. If this is not its saving grace in the process than what is? If as citizens we are forced to look at a face every day, are we not entitled to know exactly what it is the face of?