Sayeh Yousefi standing at a podium at the White House Press Pool

Sayeh Yousefi interns at the White House Press Corps for The Pavlovic Today. Credit: William Moon


Former Munk One student Sayeh Yousefi is interning at the White House Press Corps for The Pavlovic Today where she is applying her global affairs knowledge acquired at the Munk School.

Interning as a journalist for The Pavlovic Today with the White House Press Corps, the pinnacle spot of political reporting, brought with it a revelation of the real power of democracy.

For the past year, as the Editor of Naked Opinion at The Pavlovic Today, I’ve been close to the source of the news, writing briefs from the White House press pool reports and engaging with political topics of concern for my generation, but never have I been this close to the source of breaking news.

In order to be selected for this internship, I had to go through a rigorous selection process. Things that were required included an ability to work under extreme pressure, strong writing and analytical skills, coupled with a good grasp of American politics and global affairs. The Pavlovic Today puts emphasis on recruiting writers with a strong background in global affairs, and in this sense, I was able to directly apply my knowledge and understanding of global affairs acquired at the the Munk One Program.

On my first day in the White House Press Corps, I got the opportunity of covering the President’s departure to Joint Base Andrews – the closest proximity I’ve ever been to the institution of the American President and also the first I’d ever seen him in person. That same day, I joined in a conference call “background briefing” on President Trump’s visit to Yuma, Arizona, at 7:45 AM and the previous night was covering the President’s Address to the Nation at 9 PM.

Quickly I realized the working hours for this job are not easy or straightforward, and you always have to be prepared to respond quickly and to still produce high-quality and accurate articles with little to no time to prepare.

The power to shape the news

This internship in the White House Press Corps for The Pavlovic Today was simultaneously an empowering and humbling experience.

Being in the White House briefing room means having the power to shape the news, to transmit and present the primary source information in whatever way you want. This power can be manipulated far too easily.

As with any profession, competition and stakes in journalism are high. It’s easy and quick to become enthralled with ratings, view counts, and coming up with the catchiest headlines instead of truthfully and accurately relaying the news to the general public.

Critical thinking in the modern day flux of news

One of my biggest realizations as a “young voice” in the White House briefing room, was becoming aware of how much trust my generation puts in the hands of the people and outlets it receives news from.

This is a generalization, but most youth nowadays get their news off social media, if not, then either conservative or progressive news outlets. This means taking in and believing, every word we read in the news, without bothering to compare this news with other outlets, let alone to criticize it.

Accessing information before it becomes the news

What was it like for a young person in the White House Press Briefing room, having access to the information before it became the news? Both disheartening and inspiring. Disheartening in the sense that it made me realize how quickly and easily information can be manipulated to create the news we all intake.

Inspiring in realizing how in a democracy, anything really is possible – and in a world of endless possibility, we get to choose whether we will feed into the morphed version of the news the mainstream media tries to shove down our throats. Or whether we, as a generation of freethinkers, will choose to question and criticize everything that comes our way, to move past the catchy titles and funny video clips, and committedly pursue the real truth, in a world far too obsessed with the illusion of it.

We, the generation of youth, shouldn’t be content with only being consumers of the news. We should, at the very least, remain engaged with news production and the political process by challenging and criticizing our sources – to not be bystanders to the news as it unfolds.


Sayeh Yousefi is Loran Scholar 2016, a student of Victoria College at U of T.  A Munk One alumni, she is now majoring in Peace, Conflict, and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs.