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The State of Journalism in the Age of Trump

In+a+recent+survey%2C+69%25+of+adults+in+America+said+that+their+trust+in+the+media+has+declined+over+the+past+decade.+Trump+may+be+to+blame+for+this.
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The State of Journalism in the Age of Trump

In a recent survey, 69% of adults in America said that their trust in the media has declined over the past decade. Trump may be to blame for this.

In a recent survey, 69% of adults in America said that their trust in the media has declined over the past decade. Trump may be to blame for this.

Sam Hull

In a recent survey, 69% of adults in America said that their trust in the media has declined over the past decade. Trump may be to blame for this.

Sam Hull

Sam Hull

In a recent survey, 69% of adults in America said that their trust in the media has declined over the past decade. Trump may be to blame for this.

Kierra Young, Assistant Editor

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One of the biggest issues to affect journalism in recent years is the rise of President Trump, and his fake statistics, misleading comments, and attacks on the journalism world. Whether you agree with his policies or not, it’s well documented that Trump lies a lot. The seemingly simple rise of one person has undermined the entire field of journalism today, resulting in fewer people getting the information they need to actively participate in our democracy.

In an ideal system, journalism acts as a counterbalance to the government, taking complicated policies and issues and breaking them into simpler terms that let the public make informed decisions; it also acts as a carrier for news everywhere, letting people hear about new bills, debates, policies, and events that they may not have otherwise seen. It shines light on hidden situations and deals, helping to get justice for those affected; you cannot defend against something you never hear about.

With most websites, news media is fulfilling an important role in American society, working truthfully and without bias. Most journalists, especially those who are part of larger newspapers, conduct ethical reporting and cover important issues in our society today. However, despite this, more people have recently been seeing journalism as a threat or something to fear; a large part of this can likely be attributed to Trump.

Trump’s stance on newsrooms is clear; on Feb. 17, 2017, he tweeted that “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

However, the negative coverage that Trump falsely labels as made up, is in fact brought on by himself and his lies; when something, in this case the media, has to correct a person so often, even if it’s for justified reasons, it’s going to look targeted.

This, along with Trump’s attitude towards the press allows him to dismiss any and all media criticizing him, or anything that paints him in a bad light as fake or biased news that is intended to serve a political agenda, with some of his followers doing the same.

In some ways at least, his terrifying strategy appears to be working.

In a survey on Americans’ trust in the media, 69 percent of adults in the survey said that their trust in the media has declined over the past decade.

Forty-five percent said that the decline was due to misleading reporting, lies, fake news, and alternative facts— similar to language that Trump uses when criticizing news sites.

Unintentionally or not, more and more people are likely biasing themselves as well; the majority of people said that they trust some news websites, but not others. Some of the reasons given for not trusting a news site included negative stories about Trump, or, on the other hand, stories that protected or supported Trump.

This heavy mistrust of journalism, especially for the audience that thinks the media is biased against Trump, presents an interesting challenge for reporters, as they have to choose between correcting statistics and facts and risk seeming biased against him, or letting Trump’s facts go unchecked and leading to public misinformation. The rise of the internet changes the game as well — headlines are more important than ever, as people tend to scroll past without reading the whole article.

In the age of social media, there’s a need to fit the entire story in just a few words, something that is impossible to do without losing out on large amounts of information.

It’s a damaging system for all involved, with few fixes.

Something that needs to be added is a higher transparency for news sites to clearly show how they got their information, who they talked to, and why. While this likely would not solve the problem in its entirety, it would be a valuable step for the media to take; if people can understand where the information came from, they’re more likely to trust it.

For instance, New York Times politics editor Patrick Healy has started tweeting context and details about how his team’s stories were written, helpfully clarifying issues that people may have with the articles, asking for readers’ opinions, and explaining the writers’ intentions. The added clarity that his work has brought to the site helps users see why certain choices were made, and what reporters were thinking about when writing the article.

Furthermore, the responsibility is on people to get more involved in news as well; the survey illustrates that people who pay less attention to the news tend to have less trust in it, which could be attributed to never looking past click-bait headlines or from getting their news from Facebook or other social media, which really do have a fake news problem.

Everyone needs to take steps to increase media trust again; whether that means reading more news, adding transparency for journalists, or trying to stop fake news on social media websites, we have a responsibility to look beyond the headlines and keep updated on the world around us.

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About the Writer
Kierra Young, Assistant Editor

Kierra is currently a junior at La Salle. She loves traveling and volunteering in nature. In the rest of her free time she enjoys reading, playing the...

9 Comments

9 Responses to “The State of Journalism in the Age of Trump”

  1. Sawyer on January 16th, 2019 9:06 pm

    When you say that media outlets are “working truthfully and without bias,” then how do explain CNN giving Claas Relotius “Journalist of the Year” even though he had admitted to making up 14 false stories, and CNN keeping Don Lemon on the show after saying that white men are ‘the biggest terror threat in this country?’ I don’t trust the media because I know the media’s intent. Majority of national media such as CNN, NBC, and CBS tend to use political bias as a marketing strategy. People aren’t looking for media that proves them wrong, they are looking for media that sides with them. Meaning that media has become less independent and more bias throughout the years because the viewer numbers for unbiased media has fallen due to the current political climate of the country. You also mentioned how people are “getting their news from Facebook or other social media” which you say “really do have a fake news problem” when most of those media sources statistically identify as conservative-bias media. My problem is that you mention that these social media-centered news outlets have real fake news without mentioning the fake news of national media and the biases of national media: however, I do agree on your point of needing to include more reliable and trusting sources within different news stories. This article feels biased within itself and seems to attack only conservative media outlets without giving an equal share of anger towards liberal or democratic media outlets.

  2. kyoung on January 18th, 2019 5:06 pm

    It’s misleading to say that Relotius was given those awards, and also to talk about it like it wasn’t an anomaly in journalism; the awards were taken back once the news of his deception was exposed, he was fired, and he may be facing legal charges for some of them. (https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation/german-reporter-stripped-of-cnn-awards-over-fraud/) (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/19/world/europe/der-spiegel-claas-relotius.html) (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/23/world/europe/germany-der-spiegel-claas-relotius.html)
    Furthermore, I agree that what Don Lemon said was unacceptable; on the other hand, you’re taking this quote out of context. He was using it as a comparison for the caravan coming towards the USA, and pointing out that domestic terrorist attacks come far more from white men than other groups, and yet they haven’t had bans put on them, a reference to the Muslim ban. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2018/10/31/cnn-host-don-lemon-said-white-men-are-biggest-terror-threat-this-country/?noredirect=on) An extreme and unfair comparison, but he didn’t just say all white men are bad and threatening.
    People look for media that represents their point of view, yes, but that doesn’t mean journalism is any less trustworthy; even if CNN does have a “liberal bias” as you said, they still cover news accurately and fairly. The site allsides.com evaluates news sites for bias: CNN is split somewhere between center and slight left. CNN editorial is left-leaning; their news is not. (https://www.allsides.com/news-source/cnn-media-bias)
    For the Facebook comment, I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “identifying as conservative-bias media”; they’re misrepresenting lies as facts. Statistically, most of fake news comes from Facebook (https://www.foxnews.com/tech/facebook-was-the-biggest-distributor-of-fake-news-study-finds.amp). While they’ve taken steps to improve this recently, (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/29/facebook-fake-news-political-ad-security-us-midterms-2018) their site still has several problems with bots and the way news is shared. I don’t mention the “fake news of national media” because it’s far less prevalent of a problem; when most major news sites make a mistake, even for small events, it’s taken back, changed, and a section is added about what the mistake was and what actually happened. (For instance, here’s how the New York Times deals with errors: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/07/reader-center/corrections-how-the-times-handles-errors.html)
    My main intention for this article was to focus on the damage that Trump is doing to mass media as a whole, which is why it may have come across as attacking conservative media. Thank you for your time!

  3. Evan Bohart on January 16th, 2019 10:16 pm

    Based on polls alone, American’s untrust in mass media outlets has peaked in 2008 during the Obama presidency. Demographically speaking the rates of untrust in media correlates almost directly to political affiliation, with Conservatives showing the majority of untrust during the Obama era and Democrats showing the most distrust during the Trump era. Therefore, how can Trump’s supposed falsehood in comparison to Obama’s contribute to deceptivity in the media?

  4. Kierra Young on January 18th, 2019 10:44 am

    “WASHINGTON, D.C. — Forty-five percent of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the mass media to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly,” representing a continued recovery from the all-time low of 32% in 2016. Media trust is now the highest it has been since 2009 but remains below what it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
    From: https://news.gallup.com/poll/243665/media-trust-continues-recover-2016-low.aspx
    From the same site, here’s a picture of trust in mass media based on political party, which has consistently been the lowest for Republicans:
    https://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/fy5se9i4ukouwuysi4h69w.png
    That being said, I think it would be disingenuous to say that Trump’s lies and constant disparaging remarks against the press have had no effect.

  5. Luca Blue Tidrick-Schmidt on January 17th, 2019 6:41 am

    Sawyer nailed it on this one.
    “that people who pay less attention to the news tend to have less trust in it” are you sure it’s not people who have less trust in the news tend to pay less attention to it?
    There is FACTS there is TRUTH and there is opinions. Most news now days is opinion based and their sources are terrible. The day we stop questioning without a doubt the news we hear and the policies created is the day we lose independence.

  6. Alex Fiedler on January 17th, 2019 9:43 am

    I disagree with your claim that the majority of news outlets work “truthfully and without bias.” There are some issues and events that never get covered in the media: for instance, the civil war in Yemen, worsening climate change, and the fact that all of the Kavanaugh accusers except one recanted. This is because many mainstream news outlets are more focused on making the news comfortable for their audience than delivering real, truthful news. They focus on things that can easily be expressed in short headlines that their audiences, with their short attention spans, will understand, rather than more complex, challenging news.

  7. Kierra Young on January 18th, 2019 10:24 am

    I have to disagree with the statement that these events haven’t been covered; all of these news issues have been covered repeatedly, by multiple sites. The New York Times and Washington Post alone have several pieces on this:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/energy-environment/2018/10/08/world-has-only-years-get-climate-change-under-control-un-scientists-say/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/10/climate/ocean-warming-climate-change.html
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/23/climate/us-climate-report.html
    As well as on the War in Yemen:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/yemen-civil-war-women-children/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2018/11/09/houthi-leader-we-want-peace-for-yemen-but-saudi-airstrikes-must-stop/
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/21/world/middleeast/yemen-famine-children.html
    The only Kavanaugh accuser I could find taking back their claim (on any site) is an unidentified man who recanted:
    From the USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/02/brett-kavanaugh-accuser-referred-fbi-doj-investigation/1863210002/
    “Grassley has thus far asked federal authorities to investigate: Julie Swetnick, who accused Kavanaugh of drunken behavior and sexual assault; Michael Avenatti, her lawyer who also represented porn star Stormy Daniels in a suit against President Donald Trump; and a man, who was never publicly identified but recanted an allegation he’d made against Kavanaugh.”

  8. Tarn Bregman on January 18th, 2019 10:45 am

    Alex, I would like to point out that the events you claim are not covered in the media are in-fact covered and reported. Yes, the war in Yemen has not received nearly as much coverage as Trump’s presidency or the me too movement, however, there has been mainstream media coverage. The New York Times has covered the war, explaining how the war began (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/31/magazine/yemen-war-saudi-arabia.html) and the war has received attention from other major news publications such as BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29319423). A publication known as Amnesty International, published an article calling out and explaining to the world why the war has received the lack of coverage it has (https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/09/yemen-the-forgotten-war/). When it comes to climate change, there are MANY published articles from a large and diverse group of news publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and even reports by NASA. (https://www.nytimes.com/section/climate , https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/?utm_term=.ddb16e6336ed , http://time.com/5500002/oceans-warming-climate-change-impact/ ,https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/climate-change/ , https://climate.nasa.gov/ ).

  9. Max on January 18th, 2019 12:07 pm

    Sawyer hit the nail on the head. Amazing response I couldn’t have said it better.

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