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Journalism under attack: Reuters correspondent to speak at McDaniel College on challenges facing the press

Andrea Shalal, senior correspondent for Reuters, will speak at McDaniel College Wednesday evening about the challenges facing journalism.
Andrea Shalal, senior correspondent for Reuters, will speak at McDaniel College Wednesday evening about the challenges facing journalism.(Courtesy Photo)

Reuters senior correspondent Andrea Shalal has covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, German unification, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and more, and she’s coming to McDaniel College on Wednesday night to speak about the challenges facing journalism.

“We are really under attack as journalists today, not just here in the United States, but across the world,” Shalal said in an interview. “There are more authoritarian regimes. Violence, imprisonment, and the murder of journalists, you know, it’s become a much more routine thing than it used to be.”

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Shalal is speaking at the college’s Global Issues Colloquium at 6:30 p.m in the McDaniel Lounge, which is in McDaniel Hall. The event is free and open to the public. The colloquium is held each semester and offers a community discussion facilitated by a professional or scholar about a pressing global issue, according to Spanish professor and director of the Global Fellows Program Amy McNichols, who Shalal said invited her to speak.

The colloquium began when the college started its Global Initiatives and Global Fellows program, which is a structured three-year program for McDaniel students to deepen their understanding of the world, McNichols wrote in an email. Students in the program take extra international courses, study abroad, and take part in special programming.

Shalal has been with Reuters News Agency since 1988 and lived in Carroll County for about 14 years. During that time she also worked as an adjunct professor at McDaniel, teaching classes on the subjects of race, diversity, and media ethics, and served on a multicultural committee for Carroll County Public Schools.

Having been a reporter for more than three decades, Shalal has experienced the impact of journalism first-hand.

“Democracy is fragile and it has to be protected,” she said.

Shalal was born in what was then West Germany and returned to the country for a three-year stint to cover foreign policy and other aspects of German politics for Reuters.

Having been abroad during the 2016 presidential election, Shalal said coming back to the United States after President Donald Trump’s election was an interesting experience.

“One of my colleagues was the journalist who he sort of called out at a press conference with the president of Finland,” Shalal said. “President Trump went after him for asking a follow-up question.”

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Journalists are facing an increasingly polarized environment, according to Shalal, and their numbers are dwindling. The employment of journalists in the U.S. has declined by 25% between 2008 and 2018, and nearly 1,800 newspapers have closed nationally since 2004, she said.

“Basically trust in the media is at an all-time low,” Shalal said.

Despite the gloomy picture these statistics paint, Shalal believes most journalists are striving to report accurately and fairly.

“I think a lot of people do not understand how much care and thought goes into the creation of a news story,” Shalal said.

Reuters has trust principles and “very high” ethics standards in order for reporters to remain objective on topics they cover, according to Shalal. Since much of her work lately involves covering the Trump administration, she refrains from sharing her political opinions on social media and does not place campaign signs in her yard.

Shalal sees journalism as a public service, one that is protected by the First Amendment.

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“We as citizens in the United States have a huge responsibility to uphold the freedom of the press. It’s essential to the functioning of our democracy,” Shalal said. “Journalism is the only profession that is protected by the Constitution in this way.”

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