Times change; journalism should too

That was this morning. I assume this will count to his running total of lies, given that the Times did not apologize to him after the 2016 election. Whatever.

My post is about his continued attack on any media that publishes and broadcasts things he doesn’t like.

Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer says it’s time for journalists to fight back. But not in the way you might think.

“So when democracy is under attack — as it is in the Trump era — then saving journalism and saving democracy become the same job. The issue isn’t that the media needs to be relentlessly anti-Trump. The issue is that the media needs to fight relentlessly for the fundamental human principles that Trump has so consistently aligned his government against.”

He goes on to list ways on a few stories — voting rights, climate change, immigration — to do this.

“Every journalist should wake up in the morning and ask herself or himself, am I working on something that will make my town, my state and my country a better place to live? And how am I using my talents — my ability to ferret out facts, track down the right officials or the right documents, to analyze, interpret and write — to get us there. That doesn’t mean ditching certain basic tenets — fairness, listening to differing sides on an issue, or a willingness to accept truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. But it also doesn’t mean treating journalism like an ossified religion where the daily rituals of access to the powerful outweighs the spiritual quest for the very soul of what we do.”

Dan Gillmor wrote a piece with similar sentiments last August.

“Instead, I’m begging journalists to declare a sweeping mission. You need to fight, not against Trump, but for a free press and freedom of expression, in every possible way. Most of all, you have to do more journalism, with renewed passion, skill, relentlessness, and — this is essential — collective action.

“That means breaking with customs, and some traditions — changing the journalism, and some of the ways you practice it, to cope with the onslaught of willful misinformation aimed at undermining public belief in basic reality. You can start by looking at the public’s information needs from the public’s point of view, not just your own.”

President Trump’s language about the Times and the Washington Post and CNN has filtered down to the local level. I’ve seen letters to the editor making the accusation in Greensboro. It’s ridiculous, but then, that’s how this kind of fake news spreads.

I don’t know if Dan’s post made any headway among the people who run news outlets. I hope Will’s does. (Read them both.) Our old way of doing things must change. The future of journalism and democracy are at stake.

One thought on “Times change; journalism should too

  1. For my local elections, city of 600,000 people, I offered every candidate running for Mayor, Council, and two of our four school boards [excluding the two French language boards as I’m anglophone] the opportunity to answer a set of questions, publishing in audio format.

    I called the podcast “The 155” after the 155 candidates running for office. I managed to interview 102 candidates, I disqualified five candidates due to their behaviour or in the case of one candidate, his racist platform. Due to time constraints, I did not interview 11 of the 12 acclaimed candidates. The other candidates do not respond, or choose to decline.

    The one acclaimed candidate I interviewed was early in the process, and we had a conversation about the role of School Board trustees, of which she is the Vice-Chair of the English Public Board.

    Podcasts here: https://www.thepublicrecord.ca/2018-hamilton-ontario-municipal-election-information-whos-running-what-are-the-issues-and-how-do-i-vote-yhmvote/the-155-election-podcast-the-public-records-hamilton-election-podcast/

    There was nothing fancy about the podcast, nor the questions. Nominations closed on July 27, I conduct the first interview on August 1, completing the first round of interviews on August 10. The final interviews were completed on October 4.

    I traveled across my municipality, recording in library branches. People responded well to being able to see a journalist in action, candidates appreciated the wide range of date/time options to be interviewed. Candidates for school board are usually forgotten in media coverage, people responded well to those interviews happening.

    I’ve been denounced as “fake news” in print editorials of a local newspaper, denounced by the local Mayor and Council, had our local “Integrity Commissioner” investigate me for “eavesdropping” by recording public meetings. In short, the very attacks described have been fully deployed against me.

    The podcast questions were the same for all candidates in each race, there was some minor variation between races. The questions were designed to allow the candidates to determine what platform points they wished to highlight, while providing a road map to the answers, mixed with direct issue questions.

    The best question was the second to last, “It’s 2022, The Public Record is writing a review of the four year Council term that is just ending. What three words do you hope we will use to describe your term on Council, and what three words do you hope will describe Council as a whole?”

    This question forced the candidates to set the standard which they will be measured against. It effectively eliminates the opportunity for incumbents in our next election to claim they are being measured by unfair metrics selected by a “bias” journalist. In 2022, I’ll play their answer to them, ask them if they lived up to their words, and then provide my assessment if I believed they did.

    Here’s the questions for the ward where McMaster University is located: https://www.thepublicrecord.ca/2018/08/the-public-records-the-155-podcast-questions-for-hamilton-city-council-candidates-in-ward-1/

    The word “bias” is best countered by reasonableness, combined with thoughtfulness. I’ll assess the candidates, and provided I give good reasons for the assessment, the accusations of bias do not damage the trust readers have with me.

    The were around 400,000 downloads of the podcasts.

    There’s nothing fancy or showy about the work, I worked seven days a week for nine weeks to complete the project. (I took one day off in the middle).

    A non-scientific poll by a civic group found 15.4% of respondents listing me as their primary source of election news. The local daily newspaper, and local CBC public broadcaster outlet were around 35% each.

    I’m a one person news operation.

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