David Swartzlander

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Category: Media (page 1 of 2)

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.”

Will a brighter light on conservative media bring better accountability?

With the election of President Trump, conservative media have become powerful players in Washington, D.C. politics.

Those conservative media are now finding out that as their power grows, the need to better follow the tenets of journalism increases, as this column from Paul Farhi of the Washington Post illustrates. 

To be a legitimate, trusted source, news organizations must meet several important guidelines, but three stand out:

  1. Verification
  2. Independence
  3. Accountability

Those conservative media that were operating under the radar for the past few years (or that have formed recently) and may have played loosely with all three of those guidelines are now realizing that with new power comes the need for accountability and verification.

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.




Unreliable source

MSNBC’s Morning Joe has barred Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway from appearing on the program because she has become an unreliable source. CNN previously banned Conway, at least for one day, because of similar concerns about the veracity of her statements.

You may recall that Conway coined the phrase “alternative facts” and referred in one interview to the “Bowling Green massacre,” a fake event. She also recently said that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, had the full confidence of the president hours before he was fired.

Should other news organizations follow the lede of CNN and Morning Joe? At what point does a source’s information become so tainted that you stop using her as a source? And where, at what level in the administration, does such a ban stop? If the president of the United States continues to make false comments, for example, do you stop covering him?

We’re living in a topsy-turvy world in which belief has become truth and facts seem to have little or no meaning to a significant minority – if not majority – of this country. What does that mean for the future of democracy and our society?

Silence isn’t golden

Despite presidential adviser Steve Bannon’s wish that the press “just shut up,” silence simply isn’t in the cards. That would mean newspapers printed with no front-page stories, TV news programs airing with no one in the anchor chairs, static on radio stations and only Viagra ads on news web sites.

Keeping their mouths shut is not what the press does. In fact, more than ever, it’s time to discuss the issues and policies of the new administration to determine whether, as a society, we want to continue in the direction of President Trump or decide to oppose. Remember, assembly and freedom to petition for a redress of grievances are two freedoms just as important in the First Amendment as freedom of religion, speech and the press.

Now more than ever, as E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in the Washington Post, it’s time to speak out.

Fort Morgan needs managing editor

The Fort Morgan Times in Colorado is searching for a managing editor.
The daily (except Sunday) wants a journalist with managerial experience as well as experience in reporting, writing, editing, page design, photograph and web posting.
The paper offers a benefits package that includes vacation, personal time and sick leave; managed short- and long-term disability; medical, dental and vision insurance; life and AD&D, supplemental life insurance; and a 401(k) Savings Plan. The pay range is $38,000-$42,000.
To apply, send your resume with salary expectations to jobs@dailycamera.com

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