By Claire Zalla
From late June of 2017 until late July, audio and video recordings were banned from the White House briefing room. On July 19, Ksenija Pavlovic, Founder and Editor in Chief of the independent American media platform The Pavlovic Today, broke the ban by using the Periscope app to livestream audio during a press briefing. Last Thursday, she joined members of the Yale community in Pierson College to discuss journalism in the age of Trump and her dedication to defending freedom of speech.
Born in Belgrade, Pavlovic grew up in the former Yugoslavia during the presidency of Slobodan Milošević. Life under a dictatorship made her keenly aware early on of the value of human freedom and the importance of fighting for one’s rights. As she watched the government deem certain journalists enemies of the state, she knew that the freedom of the press must be protected.
Pavlovic believes that the role of journalism is to serve the public and hold the government accountable by safeguarding truth and ethics. “It is the journalists who need to defend the moral choice in politics,” she said at the College Tea last Thursday. As an admirer of intellectual boldness and forthrightness, she has been frustrated by large corporations who prefer ratings over individual voices and wishes for more professional solidarity in opposing hindrances of free speech, as in the case of the live-streaming ban.
A White House correspondent and political scientist, Pavlovic is critical of Donald Trump’s presidency. She said that he “doesn’t understand the role of journalism” and that he believes the journalists are there to serve him and not the public. His use of the phrase “fake news” as a “punchline” undermines trust in the media, and she is doubtful that he fully comprehends his responsibility as leader of the free world. “If you cannot [freely express yourself] here in America, where can you do it?” she asked. “If he can make such statements, what stops dictators doing the same?”
Pavlovic finds that it is difficult to deliver substance and solutions through limited posts on social media. The future of journalism should be in thoughtful content and long-form pieces with less of an emphasis on snappy sound bites. Pavlovic encourages young people to focus on ideas that matter and consider the footprint that they wish to leave behind. She calls them to engage and be creators, not consumers, of news. Not subscribers, but leaders of change.
Claire Zalla is a freshman in Pauli Murray College. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.