Media in the age of Trump

The White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that it is two way street when journalists are talking about trust and credibility. I am not sure about Mr. Spicer credibility but the fact is that the trust in media is quite low. Is it crucial to try to earn trust back especially in the age of Trump?  Do you think that Donald Trump administration constitute some unique challenge for the media and how to deal with this? Read few comments.

Frank Sesno, Director, School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), George Washington University

Yes. There is a unique challenge. While all presidents and people in power resent the media and try to maneuver around them, Donald Trump appears to have a particular dislike and distrust for the media. He makes his criticisms personal and public. He does not appear to be comfortable with the criticism or with the adversarial relationship that accompanies the president and the press in the United States. Contributing to this, I believe, is the fact that he is someone who has never served in public life and has not experienced the constant scrutiny and criticism of the media and their demand for accountability of everything he says or does. Public life is not corporate life. Donald Trump now has critics and commentators all over the world and from every direction. They will be channeled through the media — which can be negative, snarky, unfair, sensational as well as fair and detailed and responsible. It is this complex puzzle that the president now confronts. The media confront it as well.

As to your other question, yes, I believe it is crucial that the media recognize they have lost the public trust and consider ways to earn it back. This can be done through increased transparency, explaining what they do, how they do it and why. It can also be done through better listening to news consumers to understand what their concerns are with media and try to address them.

Charlie Beckett, Professor, Polis Director, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

The Trump administration is going way beyond the usual spin that politicians adopt. They are trying to set an agenda where all facts are subjective and where they can disrupt the usual protocols and accountability of government and media. They are able to do this partly because Trump has used mainstream media to create a personal profile and he has used both mainstream media and social media to connect directly with his supporters who do not trust authority, including mainstream elite media. The only response is for mainstream journalists to work harder on establishing facts, critiquing his policies and connecting better with the public from all walks of life, not just the people traditionally interested in mainstream politics. This is a useful wake up call for political journalists to be more transparent, more humble, to source their work better and to be independent, calm and fearless.

Robert G. Picard, Professor, Senior Research Fellow Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

The Trump administration is somewhat unique in that it established a very negative relationship with journalists during the campaign and has continued to attack them and their news organizations—even right-leaning media. A good part of the problem is that the administration believes it can make assertions that are not based on facts and that the press should not fact-check and challenge misstatements and falsehoods. Responsibility for fixing the relationship [problem does not lie with the press. The administration is going to have to get used to being challenged.

It is true that journalists and news media have a credibility problem, something that has existed for a number of years; they need too work on it. Trump, however, has very low credibility and popularity, which is not helped when the press reveals his administration’s false statements and made up facts.

Iva Deutchman, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

I would say at this point the Trump administration is a unique challenge period. In other words, everyone we’re talking about is facing the unique challenge that constitutes the Trump administration. We’ve never elected anyone like him. And it’s quite clear that he poses a problem to the media. He clearly doesn’t get the fact that the media, like every other organization, operates by rules. They don’t make things up as they go along, contrary to what he and many of the people who work for him think.

As for the idea that there is little trust in the media, I would say I think the media are far more trustworthy than  Mr. Trump and his cohort. And I mean that seriously! I’m much more likely to believe the New York Times than Mr Trump!


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