During his campaign and presidency, Donald J. Trump, 45th president of the United States, swarmed the media with stories. His harmful tweets, outrageous comments, and tumultuous relationship with the press took the spotlight and distracted the American people. Part of his garnered political influence came from just that: attention. Some of the time, diverting attention was his game-plan, like when handling the early breakouts of the Coronavirus pandemic. Whatever his intention, the majority of national, and even international, headlines focused on his rhetoric, his actions, or the elections in which he was a candidate. But more happened in the four years of his presidency than just his bullying or golfing.
Trump seemed to be unaware of repercussions or responsibility, meaning others had to work to clean up the mess he left behind. Many times throughout his presidency, for somewhat valid reasons, the media attention dwelled on the reverberating consequences of his past actions. But those reports often overshadowed a nuanced coverage of the work his administration was doing in the moment or of international issues. While the media was feeling the wake of the Capitol insurrection on January 6th, 2020 and preparing for the politics of the Inauguration, for example, the Trump administration made a desperate effort to push through environmental rollbacks and instituting new rules that would just be added to the list of policies and actions the Biden administration would attempt to reverse. But these stories went largely unreported. Essentially, by tweaking the specific language and overturning environmental progress made by the Obama administration, the Trump administration relaxed standards for heating equipment in American households, shrank the northern spotted owls’ habitat and protections, allowed conservation lands across California and Utah to be developed, and more. At its core, Trump’s final environmental agenda sought to help the oil, gas, and mining industries.
As Biden takes Trump’s place, the incoming administration — by way of speech and executive action — is trying not to dwell on the former president, but rather focus on the future of the country and of democracy. And as the news cycle is reverting back to better coverage on issues not related to solely Trump or the United States’ political sphere, it is important to take a look back at what events were forced to take the sidelines or were not reported on at all.
Although the transfer of executive power ensures some change in the newsfeed, the broader societal problem — that Americans inject information that centers around them and their affairs — has not been addressed. This must happen at an individual level and expand to a national level. Social media can be a great way to inform ourselves of global perspectives. But, when using social media platforms, it is equally important to think critically about their contents. Next, people can hold news organizations accountable for distributing their reporting efforts and attention through petitions or by simply unsubscribing from their content. Finally, individuals can diversify their intake of information by learning about current events from a broader perspective or from many different perspectives. Oftentimes, that occurs by researching from multiple different sources and contexts.
In the Current Events Club at Hewitt, we have discussions not only about the current events themselves but also about how to broaden our awareness of different events. If you are interested in joining the Club, please reach out to Hanna Rahman (email@example.com) and/or Olivia Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Attached below via hyperlinks are sources that detail specific events or times that were missed and sources that will hopefully inspire you to think critically about what news you engage with and what those news sources miss.
Diversifying Your News Sources
Initiatives Addressing Specific Issues
Current Global Genocides: Website assembled by 11/12 grade elective Memoir as History
Health Crises (including COVID-19 pandemic): World Health Organization
Articles Addressing Specific Periods of Time
Late January and Early February, 2019: Superbowl, Foriegn Policy, Ukraine, etc.