David Swartzlander

May the Swartz be with you

Category: Journalists (page 1 of 5)

Reporter arrested for – believe it or not – asking questions

In West Virginia, it must be illegal for reporters to question authority, especially federal authorities.

A West Virginia reporter was arrested for trying to get an answer from Health and Human Services Director Tom Price about whether domestic violence was considered a pre-existing condition under the Republican-backed health-care bill.

Or, as his lawyer puts it, he was arrested “for talking too loud.”

We can differentiate between news and opinion, right?

Can you tell the difference between news and opinion?

Fox News’s Sean Hannity says Americans are intelligent enough to know the difference.

Longtime broadcast newsman Ted Koppel disagrees and told Hannity he was bad for America. 

Are you able to tell the difference between news and opinion? Are Americans intelligent enough to know the difference? Should the Fairness Doctrine return?



To get access, reporters must publish good Trump news

The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan has started a new feature, Access Watch, to keep track of what reporters receive access to the Trump administration – and whether it was because they reported “good” news about President Trump or his administration.

That’s fine, and something that should be done.

But the best reporters aren’t writing “good” stories of the president to get access. They are working behind the scenes, with governmental and non-governmental sources, to find out what is going on in that administration. That’s what great reporters do.

What is a legit news outlet?

As this Washington Post report shows, it can be difficult to determine what a legitimate news outlet is. More advocacy groups are forming news teams in an effort to spread their conservative or liberal biases and get access to the powerful.

But that creates a problem for readers and viewers of news. When the independence of the source of the news is questionable, the journalism also will be questionable. To succeed as journalism, as opposed to propaganda, three factors must be present:

Verification – that is, the news organization prints information it verifies as accurate.

Independence from the control or influence of interested parties.

Accountability, or taking responsibility.

In the case highlighted in the linked story, the news outlet in question appears to lack the independence needed to provide a reliable report.

This hasn’t been much of an issue with previous administrations, but the Trump administration has allowed new news outlets into the inner sanctum of the Washington press corps. On its surface, there is nothing wrong with that, but when news outlets come from organizations that are controlled by an advocacy group or are influenced by interested parties, citizens then receive news from a press pool reporter who may throw softball questions rather than ask the tough, critical questions to which Americans need answers.

In other words, give me the mainstream (even lame stream) media over the extremes of the false alt right or far left liberal media. Those advocacy media tell you what you should think rather than lay out the facts so that readers and viewers can think for themselves.

Should media boycott the White House?

Perhaps the better question than the one posed in the headline is why the Washington press corps continues to quote governmental “officials” anonymously rather than make those people have the courage of their convictions?

These questions were debated between a Washington Post media blogger and a New York University journalism professor in an email thread published by the Post today. 

No one likes anonymous sources, especially news organizations. And the president. Yet presidential administrations for years have allowed “on background” briefings, in which government officials can be questioned and their answers used, but not attributed to them.

Why do reporters allow that? Usually, news organizations grant anonymity to those who lack power – in other words, those people who may lose their jobs or even face danger by revealing important information.

But in the case of the Washington “on background” briefings, the people in power are being granted anonymity, for no real purpose other than, perhaps, to safeguard a reporter’s access to a government official. That’s not a good enough reason.


Trump media strategy: Decline initial comment, bash later?








The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers in a Thursday column suggests that the Trump administration’s media strategy prefers unbalanced coverage initially so that the administration later can bash the media for that unbalanced reporting.

Borchers contends that the strategy calls for the Trump administration to ignore requests from reporters for comments about stories that might be unfavorable to the White House. Then, after the story is published, the administration bashes the news media for being unfair by not getting the administration’s side.

In other words, Borchers suggests that the Trump administration prefers unfair coverage initially so that it can bash the press later.


Calling media ‘enemy of American people’ poses ‘greatest threat to democracy,’ ex-Admiral says

Calling the media the enemy of the American people, as President Trump has done, amounts to the ‘greatest threat to democracy,’ says the man who organized the raid that killed Al-Queda leader Osama bin-Laden.

Ex-Admiral and Navy Seal William McRaven said Trump’s criticism of the media was the greatest threat to democracy that he has seen in his lifetime. McRaven, who owns a journalism degree, left the military after four decades to become the chancellor of the University of Texas system.




Putting a face on America’s newest public enemy

Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank wrote short bios of his colleagues, part of the press that President Trump recently called the enemy of the American people, to show how American they are.

His column includes former Nebraskan Jenna Johnson. I worked with her father at the Lincoln Journal Star. He is the nicest guy and a hell of a copy editor. Jenna attended the University of Nebraska with my son, Joshua. Both served in different years as editors of The Daily Nebraskan. Josh got his journalism degree, but decided to teach algebra to impoverished, inner city youth in Kansas City, Mo. rather than become part of the press. My students and I recently met with Jenna, who is as down home and pleasant as anyone can be.

As for me, I’m no longer a reporter. I teach journalism in college. By extension, I’m still an enemy of the people, I suppose. I was born and reared in Toledo, Ohio, by a blue-collar father with an eighth-grade education who rose to the ranks of management with the Toledo Scale Co. and my mother, who worked in the catalog department of the J.C. Penney Co. and still loves baseball, especially our Detroit Tigers. I was the first of my family to get a college degree.

I never considered myself an enemy of the American people.


#NotTheEnemy gets an unexpected ally

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, son of famed CBS reporter Mike Wallace, cautioned his Fox News colleagues and viewers that President Trump has gone too far in saying that America’s news media are enemies of the people.

Trump made his comment in a Tweet Friday afternoon. No other United States president has ever called the news media the enemy of the American people.

Wallace contends that Trump “crossed the line” when he labeled journalists as enemies of the  people.

Will reporters face prosecution for publishing leaks?

Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post poses the question of whether reporters, now Public Enemy #1 to President Trump, will be prosecuted for publishing material received through leaks. Her answer: Unlikely … but we don’t live in Normal Town anymore.

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