Pursuing Social Justice in the age of ‘Fake News’
Former Free Press high school columnist reflects on her first year as a journalism student
By Subhanghi Anandarajah, Stouffville Free Press
Hello Stouffville! Remember me? If not, I’m happy to introduce myself, especially to all the new readers. My name is Subhanghi Anandarajah, although my family and friends call me Subi. I was the High School Happenings columnist for the Stouffville Free Press during my final year at Stouffville District Secondary School in 20015-16. I completed my first year at Ryerson University this April and I thought I’d give you a glimpse of my experience.
Where do I even begin to describe the Ryerson School of Journalism? I remember I was terrified during orientation. However, I knew I belonged in J-school once I handed in my first story. I made new friends as the year progressed, and became more confident in myself as an individual and a journalist. J-school taught me perseverance because no matter how many people say “no” to you when you ask for an interview, if you work hard and keep searching, someone will eventually say “yes” and agree to be a part of your story. Apart from my reporting classes, I also joined RUtv News, which is one of the university’s broadcast and online news sources that is led by students and focuses on current events.
When people ask me why I chose journalism, I never have a straightforward answer. Journalism was the best of both worlds because it combined two of my biggest interests: writing and helping others. I wanted to be a journalist in order to raise awareness about the social justice issues that are not always taken seriously.
I’m sure it’s no surprise that the 2016 United States presidential election and Donald Trump’s presidency were huge areas of interest in my first-year reporting classes. We had multiple discussions about him and his impact on journalism during class and online. A few of my story days were related to Trump, one of which covered the election results.
Whenever Trump and his followers declare newspaper stories they dislike as “fake news,” it reminds me how crucial it is for journalists to be extremely thorough in their fact-checking and reporting so they don’t provide false information to the public. As journalists, we serve the public and it is our duty to present a balanced account of the facts and proportionately cover each side to a story so people can make their own decisions based on the information provided. We must always report the truth and objectively report on issues without incorporating our own personal biases so the public can trust that they are not being influenced by the media.
Thanks for reading about my first year at university. Through my experience, I hope I’ve broadened your understanding of the role journalism plays in a democratic society and its significance.