We are Newsspeak: a motley club brought together by a burning curiosity about the world; a desire to shine a light on injustices; tell stories; drink beer. Some of us are students, hoping to enter the journalism industry, some of us are graduates, already navigating the rocky terrain of modern news.

All of us, at one point or another, have been discouraged from pursuing journalism in favour of a “more stable”, “well paying”, “more worthwhile” job. By parents, relatives, friends, and now perhaps by you.

There’s been a lot of talking at or about us, not to us, so today we want to put our perspective to you on why the study and practice of journalism will always be a goal worth pursuing, despite a long history of attempts to diminish and dismantle.

The scenes in the US are what happens when there’s been a long history of attacks on the very idea of truth – a hyper-militarised police, politics first-facts second, division, confusion, exhaustion. It wasn’t Trump, he’s just the twisted face of the power of propaganda, corruption, and shamelessness that has become too normal.

Journalists are being assassinated, killed, tortured, imprisoned, and silenced all over the world. The people doing it know exactly why journalism matters. Have we forgotten?

We don’t need to look overseas. In the last three years alone, we have seen journalists raided by various arms of the state, the prosecution of an intelligence agency whistle-blower and his lawyer, and the election of a Prime Minister who made his name almost gleefully concealing Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers from the public. National security laws expanded, freedom of information requests treated with contempt, outdated defamation laws, the police literally in your underwear drawers.

Meanwhile, since the beginning of this year, there has been an awful culling of media companies in Australia, with 10 Daily, Buzzfeed Australia, Vice – predominately staffed by young journalists, and catering to younger readers, all closing or drastically reducing their output. As well as the ongoing uncertainty around AAP – a classic example of an unheralded newswire service that’s actually a backbone of Australian journalism.

Plus three-quarters of a billion dollars has been stripped from Australia’s national broadcaster and most trusted news source, at a time when it’s literally saving lives.

This combination of events tells us three things: the role of journalism in democracy has never been more explicitly under threat; it has never been more important; and the danger of pinning the survival and future of this discipline to the profit motives of big companies has never been more obvious.

Yet, in the midst of this, we see current and former journalists, working for supposedly progressive publications surrendering (we choose the word carefully) to precisely the view that journalism is something young people should steer clear of. As if knowledge and truth are only worth what bullshit business models will pay.

Well. Fuck that.

We’re as disappointed as anyone by the failure of journalism in recent years to address its own deterioration, and watch democracy go with it. That the industry is interconnected to the current state of the world is both depressing and inspiring. Look what we’ve done. Look what we could do.

But, to be clear, the practice of journalism and the study of it are two different things.

A good journalism education is about more than the job at the end. A passion for this subject gives a broad spectrum of knowledge. It’s not called the first draft of history for nothing. It’s not called the first rung of literature for nothing. The skills it imparts are multi-faceted. We estimate only half of our cohort even seek to become journalists, with others using their skills in the ever-expanding base of communication roles, or studying further, or forging a different path. We have rarely heard any of them regret their choice of degree.

Is it bad journalism teaching you’re talking about? Those who want everything to remain the same and for us to just accept that? Respectfully, take up your concerns with them, they do not speak for us.

Learning the foundations of journalism is to learn what it means to be an engaged human being, a citizen who belongs. Everyone should do it. The world around us, how we understand and communicate it, why it matters – it’s what higher education is for.

It’s how you decide if 437 Indigenous deaths in custody without a single conviction sits right with you (that number was 432 when we wrote the first draft just this week). It’s why unsolved murders return to court rooms. It’s how you assess the way your taxes are spent. It’s how you navigate reports on why we send our soldiers to war, and monitor what they do once they get there. It’s how you understand the very nature of community and country.

There are apparent alternatives all over the world – different models of funding and ownership and governance. And the countries that employ them rate far higher in metrics assessing the quality of their democracy than Australia. Are you asking about those? Are you pushing for proper questions on the legislative changes to ownership laws and public sector funding – made for short-term gain by short-term people – before you tell young people what they should bother learning or doing?

Stop telling us what we should do, what we should care about, why your interpretation of viability should be ours. Yes, it’s your free speech, but we’re asking you to stop trying to take ours away.

How did we get to the stage where we’re forced to defend your industry against your attacks? We have other things we should be doing – studying, learning, going to the pub, making friends, growing as human beings, going back to the pub.

We recognise there are more important things in the world right now. We are fighting for the right to care about more important things. We shouldn’t have to.

Which is why we need leaders now more than ever. Eloquent, passionate defenders of what people need to know, not just what they want to know.

We need more Aboriginal students, we need more students of colour, more students from diverse backgrounds, more working class students. In other words, more students like us, and who represent the Australia we live in rather than the Australia we see on too many televisions.

The study of journalism matters. Let us do it.