the westminster review logo

Decoding DC

Cami Mondeaux

Tips for finding truth in media from an alum covering Congress

by Cami Mondeaux (Honors ’21)

I began my news career at a hectic time in U.S. history. I landed my first gig during Trump’s impeachment in 2019, followed quickly by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 election. After that, I moved to Washington, DC, to cover Congress. I’ve spent countless hours camping out in the halls of Congress, chasing members down hallways, and staking out meetings in rooms occupied by world leaders such as President Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

It’s caused a bit of whiplash, but the desire that originally pushed me to this place remains the same: the only way to change the world is to have an accurate understanding of it and to act on those beliefs.

As a college graduate heading into the field of journalism, I had conflicted thoughts on how to accomplish this. On the one hand, it sounded great to have such a crucial role in the recording of the country’s history. But it also exacts a heavy responsibility. If I make a mistake, it can bring about unwanted consequences and the risk of misinforming the electorate—something that is not so easily fixed once information has been disseminated.

In a world dominated by social media and flashing headlines, news in the nation’s capital is readily available and constantly changing. There’s pressure to be first and to be quick. It’s exhilarating, yet it’s exhausting. It’s critical, yet it’s overwhelming to be swallowed up by the top issues that have become increasingly partisan and downright messy.

Heading into 2024, we are likely to face yet another tense election cycle characterized by political divides and, in some cases, personal attacks. Several issues will dominate the conversation, and your attention will be pulled in myriad different directions.

The constant name-calling and divisiveness coming from our country’s leaders are enough to make you want to turn off the TV, mute your X (formerly known as Twitter) notifications, and isolate yourself from the news cycle. As a reporter in the thick of it all, it’s become my mission to ensure you don’t.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received when it comes to navigating misinformation is that if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Misinformation spreads like wildfire when the claims are emotionally charged, causing people to share and repost simply because they want the information to be true—even when it’s not.

The best place to fact-check these bigger-than-life claims is to find the information yourself—no, really, it’s far easier than it sounds.

Your best friends in the news world are the reporters who link to original documents that you can read for yourself. They are the reporters who talk to lawmakers firsthand and quote them in full, rather than just using catchy soundbites.

You can trust the reporters who provide context to their stories, who not only report what is happening right now but also explain how we got here, and the journalists who offer the microphone to all voices and perspectives.

Overall, when looking for the truth, you must remember that it’s not a journalist’s job to tell you what to think. We only exist to tell you what to think about.

I truly believe that knowledge is power, and voters hold all the power in elections. I chose to go into this field to fight against politicians’ disinformation and to provide voters with the accurate knowledge they need to elect trustworthy representatives.

An informed electorate breeds passionate activists. An informed electorate leads to informed leaders. Without an informed electorate, we risk stalling progress when faced with pressing issues. Changing the world starts with one person—and I hope to use my role in the nation’s capital to push for change starting at the very top.



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.