| 03.17.2018

The ultimate struggle — Media critic Jay Rosen discusses the recent problems journalists face in the Trump administration


Journalists face problems now more than ever.

Media critic Jay Rosen discussed the common struggles journalists face today about the 2016 presidential election in his speech Thursday night.

Addressing the 10 problems linked to journalists on his website, pressthink.org, Rosen examined them throughout his public speech.

Rosen said these were pre-eminent problems in the media that concerned him the most.

The first problem is that the world is facing a surplus of eventfulness in the midst of President Donald Trump’s election, Rosen said. Too many things are happening too fast.

“Problem No. 1 is how can the press keep from exhausting itself and fracturing our attention into too many pieces?” Rosen said.

This question was only the beginning.

Rosen said the second problem lies in the fate of the recent election.

“The events of the election of 2016 were a disaster for journalists … a devastating blow,” Rosen said. “It would be extremely unwise to simply move on from that collapse without close examination of what prepared the ground for it.”

The issue here, Rosen said, is that people are moving on instead of learning and reflecting on the circumstance.

Problem three reviewed the subject of fake news and why individuals choose to question the media’s credibility.

“Somewhere between 25 to 35 percent of the electorate agrees with President Trump that the mainstream media can never be trusted, that it is full of fake news … They would rather get their Trump news from Trump than from the media,” Rosen said.

The fourth problem deals with news organizations and their optimization of trust. Rosen said the question lies in what it would look like if a newsroom to develop trust rather than ratings, conflicts and entertainment.

“What would that even look like?” Rosen said. “How would it behave differently from what we commonly see?”

The big listen, or problem number five, is short and simple, Rosen said. It focuses on how journalists can improve at listening to the public. He said a major problem with the 2016 election was a lack of listening.

The threat of authoritarian rule, Rosen said, is problem six. He said it is something all journalists should oppose with all of their might, but they are hesitant because the primary focus is on reporting the news. He said journalists should act as the opposition.

“From what traditions can (journalists) draw to rise to the occasion and find the will to fight?” Rosen said.

Problem seven — the press is tempted to steady itself and calm its nerves by believing the job hasn’t changed, Rosen said. Just doing the job and reporting the news is what the press wants to do, he said, but sometimes they must change their thoughts and views.

The surge in support for major news organizations was the focus of problem eight. Rosen said distressed Americans are looking for help from journalists following the Trump presidency. As an example, he said The New York Times has gained a record amount of subscribers as a result of the election.

“Enormous support is being funneled towards journalists by Americans who want the press to do its job,” Rosen said.

The problem that stems from this is how the support gained from the emergency situation can remain and how the trust can be earned, Rosen said.

Problem nine is about a successful Washington Post journalist, David Fahrenthold, who questioned Trump’s philanthropy funds. By publicly tracking Trump’s actions for six months, Rosen said Fahrenthold gained fans through his reporting techniques.

Rosen said the problem is about how other journalists can learn from Fahrenthold’s experience and integrate the lessons of his success into their own reporting.

The final problem Rosen discussed involved the president’s ability to differentiate fact from fiction and how journalists can react to that.

“The President of the United States is proceeding as if he were liberated from the distinction between true and false,” Rosen said.

Savannah Cardon can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @savannahlcardon

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