While in New York, I received the vibe that media professionals were sweating bullets because the sky seems to be falling. Conversely, when leaving the meetings in D.C., the sky seems to be blue and almost cloudless. There is generally a positive attitude here of the future of the media. Perhaps this is due to the overall nature of D.C. being a city that thrives on writing public policies in order to better society.
When meeting with Lucy Deglish of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, I was blown away when she maintained a positive attitude about the direction of her organization, regardless of plummeting donations, and obstacles presented by previous policies. Perhaps the best news for this questionably floundering profession is that “44”, as locals refer to our new president, has reversed the Ashcroft memorandum within his first two days of being in office. This first step to revive the public interest in government by attempting to allow viewing of documents according to FOIA regulations, will permit for a more ‘transparent government’.
The work that Frank Lomonte of the Student Press Law Center is also allowing student journalists to enjoy and take advantage of the privileges of the First Amendment. This group which deals with combating high school and college level censorship, is taking large strides to not only educate student journalists but also to inform the deans, teachers, and advisors of these student groups of their rights in journalism.
After the scheduled meetings, I was thrilled to also learn that people in the media business were not the only ones who see a light at the end of the tunnel, but also a few Washington lobbyists. Hannah, Stephanie, and I went to dinner with Sally and Bill Murphy, friends of Stephanie’s family. We were spoiled with an extraordinary meal at the Capitol Grille where we were able to enjoy a clean environment (unlike our hostel situation), rich conversation, and amazing company. Amongst a serenade from Bill, joyful and optimistic tears about our Inauguration day experiences, and steaks which must have come from heaven, we also discussed the uphill battle newspapers have in order to appeal to a technology savvy generation. The positivity that emerged from this conversation lifted our spirits, and I think a lot of that generated from the outlook that we as Americans can do anything we put our minds to…a theme which has resonated through the election season and especially this past week.