ST. CHARLES (KMOX) — “See, now the world is watching,” President Donald Trump told a crowd of about 1,000 people at the St. Charles Convention Center Wednesday. He’d just told them that he didn’t know until “two days ago” that the famous Lewis and Clark expedition set off from the St. Charles area.
It started at Camp Dubois, near present day Wood River, Illinois, on May 14, 1804. The explorers arrived in St. Charles two days later and started west again May 21.
“Look at all that fake news back there,” Trump said, motioning to the media assembled at the back of the room — many of them local St. Louis reporters, with some national network correspondents from Fox, NBC and others also represented. He assumed the gathering media would quickly tweet or otherwise report about Trump’s statement — some of them did.
Journalists who cover the president even semi-regularly are used to this relationship. But the brief incident offered an interesting lesson for some high school journalism students who covered the event. It was the first time they’d been publicly demeaned by a sitting president, and also the first time supporters of that president booed them.
That handful of students from Francis Howell Central High School weren’t deterred.
“I’m not a beauty contestant, I’m a journalist,” said Elizabeth Baker confidently. “My job isn’t to please the public with my opinions, my job is to tell people about what’s actually happening in the world.”
“He says it’s fake news, but we’re here and we see it’s real, like, all of this is real,” said senior Skylar Laird. “It’s not something people are making up, and it’s something we can learn from.”
Journalism, both print and broadcast, is seen as a tough profession. Internet listicles consistently rank journalism among the worst jobs in the nation citing high stress, constantly doing more with less and low pay among other qualities. Students like Baker, Laird and Central senior Garrett Allen already know it’s tough. But Allen didn’t seem put off by that.
“There will be times in this country where opinions shift for and against us, but our mission doesn’t change,” Allen said. “If it’s gotten to a point in our country where the public, you know, our neighbors, our friends, our business owners, our farmers and our teachers will turn around and boo at us for being part of that trust-reporting process, honestly… that just means we have to work harder.”