We've been experiencing a lot of sensationalized news involving the president. We call that yellow journalism and it used to be the exclusive territory of what we called "rags." A change was noted during the election with the mainstream media—now it may be shifting to "red journalism" or "envelope journalism" because it is associated with bribes, which can come in many forms.
We raise a lot of beef on the hoof here in the Ozarks. It’s a big part of our local economy. Unless our beef producers listen to the syndicated radio show Marketplace, they might not have known that last Thursday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that China would be buying U.S. beef again—for the first time since 2003.
In the national media where many Americans get their news, it was a buried story. Why? It means jobs. It helps to offset our trade deficit with China. According to an export forecast article in Fortune on-line news, “It is the general belief that the agreement is part of Trump’s effort to enlist Chinese support in tamping down the nuclear threat from North Korea.”
I think that’s newsworthy, but apparently not with the national media. If that Trump administration accomplishment doesn’t do it for them, how about a humanitarian effort on behalf of a political “dissident?”
Last month, Egyptian President el-Sisi made a visit to the White House that resulted in an American woman released from an Egyptian jail. There was little to no national coverage of the Trump administration’s effort to ensure this woman’s freedom. Why? Would that have been headline news under an Obama administration?
We are only a little more than four months into a Trump-led administration and the news we get is nothing more than leaked innuendo and snarky vitriol about supposed misdeeds and missteps that lately has led to a call for impeachment by Democrat politicians, with the mainstream press baiting the process. Have these journalists lost their collective minds?
The Washington Post stories about Attorney General Rod Rosenstein offering his resignation over the firing of FBI director James Comey and the FBI’s request for more resources to find collusion with Trump’s camp and the Russian government were in essence, false and dishonest news. Now we have the New York Times claiming they have been read a memorandum drafted by ex-Director Comey that claims Trump asked him to discontinue a probe into national security adviser Michael Flynn. Where is the memorandum? The reporters have never seen it, so how could the “evidence” be verified? It appears these journalists are willing to hang their already damaged reputations on a lot of unnamed sources and “White House officials.” I say “already damaged reputations,” because of the hypocrisy of how the media turned a blind eye on many Clinton/Obama scandals. This has not been lost on the American public.
Granted, President Trump is nothing like we’ve seen in the White House lately, but it is exactly that reason he was put there by the will of the American people as the result of a fair election.
Journalists know well that words are powerful because they set events in motion. Thoughts always precede deeds. That is why there is supposed to be a code of journalism ethics. In the latest May issue of Editor and Publisher magazine, there is a commentary written by Todd Milbourn. He’s an award-winning investigative journalist and a teacher at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. His piece is titled “Protecting the truth under President Trump,” which is odd because he writes about caution and ethics in journalism. So who is dishonest—Trump or journalists? The title would have you believe the former, but he doesn’t call out the latter as being part of the problem.
He starts out his piece with an interesting look at how people reacted towards news in the Czech Republic, decades after being under Communist rule.
“The result wasn’t that falsehoods were accepted as facts, but rather the creation of a “crust of lies” so thick and pervasive that people no longer believed anything at all. People became cynical, obedient or some combination of the two—and the wounds were so deep, I could still see scars in Prague nearly 20 years after Communism.”
He dutifully notes Trump’s gaffs concerning “alternative facts,” “facts that slide into fiction.” But he fails to grasp the damage of the national media’s behavior when it comes to unbiased reporting, the linchpin of journalism. He offers advice for his colleague journalists, but it comes off more as someone in the throes of self-doubt. Perhaps he deceives himself into thinking he’s already doing the right thing—excusing the bad ethics record of the national media as he looks in the mirror and questions, “We’re good people (aren’t we?).”
* Insist on evidence to back-up assertions and vehemently reject lies and propaganda
* Restore trust through the tools of community engagement
* Fight relentlessly for access to information
* Be transparent about the fact-finding process
* Take our time
I think Todd needs to get out of the Willamette Valley university bubble and turn on the TV. Maybe he really does see what’s going on and is the lone wolf howling at the ravages of the profession all around us.
He says, “Keeping our wits about us is key to surviving an age of disinformation.”
“If we succumb to cynicism and obedience and let the power of facts fade away, we’ll discover something older Czechs experienced first-hand: the only thing left will be power itself.”
That’s a warning, but as a journalist, he can’t see the current yellow journalism, much less that it is quickly turning red before our eyes. “Red” journalism or “envelope journalism” refers to media publication activity directed by bribes. If the Russians leaked DNC e-mails to Wikileaks, remember that part of that e-mail dump unmasked a dinner party at John Podesta’s home (Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor) that was attended by journalists of the major media outlets that are no friends of Trump—or Bernie Sanders. Just ask Debbie Wasswerman Schultz, ex-chairperson of the DNC who lost her job over the Sanders firestorm. Talk about influencing elections, but if it wasn’t for some reporters with scruples that broke this major, but minor story once it hit the airwaves, we wouldn’t know anything.
When you listen to the news today, consider the source of this news and the repeated buzz words and talking points from channel to channel, radio frequency to radio frequency. From this American’s point of view, it’s scary.
In the meantime, where do we get the news that’s not being reported?