David Swartzlander

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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.

 

Making the case for live podcasts

Podcasts have been around for years. They are, basically, radio shows produced online. Even though thousands of podcasts have been launched, the lack of financial benefit has limited their growth as a communication medium.

That may be beginning to change. As this story notes, dynamic ad insertion is starting to bring revenue to podcasts and the success of “Serial” has given new life to podcasts.

Did Trump administration violate First Amendment?

When White House spokesman Sean Spicer barred certain members of the press from a briefing on Friday, he may have violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, according to this New York Times story. 

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.

 

 

 

Who do you trust more – the media or Trump?

In a recent Quinnipiac University poll published by the Washington Post, more people – 52 percent – said they trusted the media more than their president, who totaled 37 percent. That may be a hollow victory, though. Neither has a stellar trust record, though it’s clear that most Americans see the media as having a watchdog role on government.

The ubiquitous Mr. Trump

As New York Times writer Farhad Manjoo discovered, you can’t get away from President Trump. He’s everywhere. On every channel, in every newspaper and magazine, on every website, Facebook, Twitter and nearly all other social media sites (though he didn’t check dating sites such as Tinder or FarmersOnly.com). Try as Manjoo did, he couldn’t escape the Donald – not during late night TV, not during primetime, not at awards shows, not during sporting events, and certainly not in the morning. (With the possible exception of the few soap operas still in production.) It’s all Trump. All the time. Even in this post. And my guess is that’s exactly how Trump wants it. If only the American public would pay more attention to other important news in the country and throughout the world …

 

Poor ISIS. Demoted to No. 2 by the president

Comedian Stephen Colbert expressed his pity for ISIS last night, after it was demoted from the No. 1 enemy of the American people to No. 2 in a tweet Friday by President Trump.

Trump tweeted that the American press actually was the enemy of the American people so the news media have replaced the terrorist group ISIS as America’s Public Enemy No. 1.

Like Avis, the car rental firm, I suppose ISIS will just have to try harder.

 

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