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May 10, 2017

Editorial: Journalism in the age of Trump

Chip Somodevilla/Pool/Sipa USA/TNS

Forty-five percent. Seventy-one percent. Eighty-five percent. These were the projected predictions from Fox News, FiveThirtyEight and The New York Times, respectively, that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency. They weren’t alone. We were also so overconfident in our belief that Clinton would win, that originally, we had only prepared an article for her win instead of preparing for either Clinton or Donald Trump.

These miscalculations resulted in an American populace that has grown to mistrust the media, an issue exacerbated by Trump’s ongoing conflict with news organizations, even referring to them as “the opposition party.” These predictions were rooted in the way that Trump was made into a character from the beginning – a joke not to be taken seriously. Months went by and Trump sailed through the primaries while news media such as CNN and MSNBC continued to emphasize the content of his tweets rather than his specific, articulated policies. By using Trump for ratings rather than focusing on their role as an outlet for information, the media provided Trump with hours of free airtime while taking time away from the other presidential candidates. Meanwhile, the voices of working class America weren’t being heard, or accurately represented.

If the goal of journalism is to do research, put together an accurate story and reliably present the information to the public, then it is safe to say that journalism failed as a whole in its coverage of the 2016 election.

How did journalists fail to get every side of the story?

What can we, the next era of journalists, do to make sure that going forward, we ensure that this doesn’t happen again?

With major news outlets located in bustling metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta, these media outlets fell into complacency by neglecting to extend their outreach to the areas of America that felt their needs were ignored by the government and its institutions. They failed to take Trump seriously as a candidate and failed to realize that his attacks on familiar institutions and criticisms of the status quo resonated with many Americans who felt left behind by these institutions.

Not only was the American population misrepresented, but news outlets failed to act like unbiased sources of information. Instead, they based their presentation of news in a way they believed their viewers wanted to consume it and did not anticipate the consequences that this would bring.

But beyond the failures of media during coverage of the election process, we need to make sure that those mistakes are not repeated going forward. Trump is trying to silence the media because it isn’t putting him in the ideal light he strives for. He claims that anything he doesn’t like or is a negative view of him is “fake news.” This denunciation extends beyond legitimate criticism to the realm of satire and parody, exemplified when his administration criticized Melissa McCarthy’s segment on Saturday Night Live, calling it “mean” and saying that she “could dial back.” If the Trump administration feels threatened even by jest through parody and satire, then it is close to crossing the line into censorship.

Donald Trump has a history of denying reality, as shown by his insistence that our former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States. This tradition of spreading falsehoods can be seen in the Trump administration, whether it’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying that Trump’s inauguration was the most attended inauguration ever, or Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway inventing the “Bowling Green Massacre,” which never happened. The Trump administration has shown that it values propaganda over truth.

In order to address these forthcoming obstacles, we can continue the positive efforts made during the election by thorough fact-checking as done by NPR and CNN, for example. We can’t blindly trust everything our president and leaders say. Sifting through the rubble of sound bites will be cumbersome and tedious. However, combing between “alt facts” and facts will be an arduous but crucial task.

Journalism is a critical check on power in our system of governance, and with one party controlling both the legislative and executive branch, along with the uncertain future of the Supreme Court, this check is vital.

With statements from our new presidential administration that threaten free speech, such as Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon saying on Jan. 26, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” journalism needs to make its presence known.

With all due respect, Mr. Bannon, you’re wrong. We will listen, but when facing a propagandist regime, we have an even greater responsibility to seek the truth and inform the American people. Society has the right to be informed and true journalism is a “public good” for that very purpose. In the words of our own UMass community, declared proudly on the Central Residential Area wall, “there are no alternatives to facts,” and nor shall we accept alternatives to facts.

This unsigned editorial represents the majority opinion of The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Editorial Board, members of which can be reached at editorial@dailycollegian.com.

Comments
9 Responses to “Editorial: Journalism in the age of Trump”
  1. Sitting Bull says:

    Can you believe that in a nation like this built on free press, that the free press has so abused its mandate that a majority of people no longer believe the “journalism” that they read? Think about how much the press has collectively fu#ked up to get to this point. Yes, the press needs to hold this president accountable. But why didn’t it do so with the previous President and others? It’s not so much the ugly bias in the stories that are written, which is bad enough. It insults consumers of news by presuming to tell you what to think and hoping you’ll just swallow alternate reality from what your experience tells you is true. Sort of like the UMASS professors of certain social sciences who indoctrinate rather than teach (an old story).

    Case in point: Silicon Valley and the Fortune 1000 have been abusing the H1-B visa policy by claiming they cannot find qualified workers in the U.S. (see: Disney fires tech workers). The truth is, corporate America abuses the policy the same way it used to use illegal immigrants to avoid paying Americans who supposedly wouldn’t do the work. The Trump administration addressed this issue in its first week by planning to curtail the visa process. In the midst of all the reporting about tweets and Betsy DeVos, this story was barely covered by the legitimate press and not at all by the news. And yet it is one of the most significant developments after decades of abuses aided and abetted by the left. If you think that issue doesn’t affect you, ask the thousands of underemployed UMASS computer science graduates where all the jobs are going. Mostly to Indians and Chinese who work for 1/4 the pay under a phony visa scam.

    All these “we are the world” policies have dire consequences for Americans. But the press doesn’t report these social consequences under some misguided idea that our inherent national racism must be tamed by bringing in people from all over the world just because they “want a better life.” You want to see real racism? Go to any Asian country and be an outsider for awhile. Or anywhere in the Southern hemisphere.

    The press has lost the faith of the American public, and rightfully so. The only reason that Fox News is so popular (particularly astonishing for an essentially fledgling network) is that people realized long ago that their news (much like our universities) had become politicized and taken over by the left and that what was being reported often did not match the reality of their experience.

    Think about it, how is it that the overwhelming majority of today’s college students think the same liberal ideals on almost every topic? Is it because everyone has become so enlightened and there is only one way of seeing things? Or is it more likely that there has been an insidious infiltration of our nation’s high schools and universities that has actually discouraged variety in thought, viewpoints and critical discussion. The press has a lot to answer for, and we are all a lot poorer for enduring this universal propaganda machine.

  2. David Hunt 1990 says:

    There is so much wrong with this editorial I don’t know where to begin, so I will begin at the beginning.

    Journalists, or as I refer to them now, whore-nalists, have long-ago learned that they can affect public opinion by selective omissions, fabrications, and what they decided to cover / not cover / emphasize.

    For example, consider the Tet Offensive. By any objective measurement, Tet was a catastrophic loss for the North Vietnamese. They lost troops and equipment in huge quantities. But it was Walter Cronkite’s outright distortion of the results that affected public perception, and ended up with America losing a very winnable war. But Cronkite was a globalist, an advocate of a One World Government, and used his position to advance his political views.

    Today, the vast majority of whore-nalists live in concentrated areas; New York, Los Angeles, etc. They graduate from the same schools, attend the same parties and have overlapping social circles, and because they live in these echo chambers, they believe “everyone” thinks and believes the same way. On that, most whore-nalists believe they have Divine Right to alter public perception to “save the world”. Thus, they have emotional justification to spin and even fabricate.

    Trump is not “silencing” the media; he’s calling them to account. He’s identifying how wrong they were, how wrong they are, and why. As law professor Glenn Reynolds often notes, if you think of the press as propagandists for the Left with by-lines, you’re not far wrong.

    CNN? The same CNN that tweeted out that Nancy Sinatra objected to Trump’s using her father’s song… only to have her tweet out that she never said that. Just one example.

    During the gulf war, as reporters were actively deriding finds of WMDs even as we were finding them, the media moved from fact-checking and informers to activists. And personally, I’d have liked to have seen some of the skeptics exposed to the nerve agents we did find; watching and televising media personnel twitching and dying even as their colleagues were denying the chemicals causing their deaths would have been most amusing…

  3. David Hunt 1990 says:

    The media swallowed, whole, “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep it”. They accepted at face value the claim that Benghazi was caused by a video. Dan Rather, that bastion of the news, attempted a last-minute GOTCHA on George W. Bush based on a fake. It was NBC that rigged gas tanks to explode.

    Whore-nalists lie, and lie, and lie, and lie, and lie… and then you wonder why people don’t trust you, and politicians attack you.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    “We will listen, but when facing a propagandist regime, we have an even greater responsibility to seek the truth and inform the American people. ”

    Spoken like a Ministry of Truth spokesperson. Maybe the reason the media has no credibility because it has become biased,unfair,regularly inaccurate or misleading stories and false information included in stories that appear to be outright lies.

    Msm and journalism died, the advent for better or worst is alternative media.

  5. David Hunt 1990 says:

    Consider this quote:

    “The President of the United States announced that refugees fleeing persecution by a totalitarian regime would be deported. It did not matter that they had risked their lives to come here.”

    From:

    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-lefts-persecution-of-real-refugees.html

    Now read the rest of the story.

    NOBODY protested when Obama banned Iraqis for SIX months. NOBODY protested when Obama sent Cubans back to the Communist hellhole, likely to face imprisonment (at the last). NOBODY in the media mentioned that the seven country list was developed by the Obama administration.

    It’s about SMEARING Trump, nothing less.

  6. David Fitzgerald says:

    “How did journalists fail to get every side of the story?
    What can we, the next era of journalists, do to make sure that going forward, we ensure that this doesn’t happen again?”

    this is excellent

    UMass journalists have decided to publish both sides of stories

    well, it’s not explicit, but I’m reading between the lines

    this is excellent

    UMass journalists are now going to expose the propaganda of both political sides

    I assume they will give equal editorial exposure to the propaganda of Democrats and liberals

    this is excellent

    I assume they will indeed hold themselves accountable to this high standard

    this is excellent

    I look forward to seeing approximately half of all Collegian editorials espousing the conservative viewpoint

    this is excellent

    I didn’t know there were any conservatives on staff but now I am confident that they will uphold their vow “to get every side of the story”

    this is excellent

    thank you Collegian staff

  7. David Hunt 1990 says:

    Want to know why so many people utterly despise the media these days? Want to know why NOBODY trusts you, with the media being held in lower regard and trustworthiness than even Congress?

    PJTV: Journalism: The Most Trusted Scam In America

  8. Zac Bears says:

    Truth-seeking is the only mission. “Equal time” is a false flag. Great job, Editorial Board! When you have David Hunt bashing Cronkite, you know you’re doing it right.

  9. Sitting Bull says:

    Zac – when will truth-seeking ever begin? And when the truth is sought, when will it ever be factually reported? The public is waiting….

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