Journalism in the Trump Era

. A journalist's job is to put unfamiliar stories in a familiar context to connect with a varied and widespread audience. A journalist has to draw from a widely recognized code of ethics. This way, the journalist begins to show trust with an audience and offer something that citizens thoroughly understand and connect with. Esoteric language is also a hindrance. A journalist looking to reach the Midwestern Trump supporter who did not graduate high school would fail to reach that reader using the common strategy. As an unappealing a viewer and commentator that Midwesterner is, the more valuable he or she should become. Even some of the strongest journalists in the field are beginning to waver on the SPJ code of ethics. Jake Tapper and Don Lemon, figureheads at CNN, are just two of many professionals in the field of journalism who have lost their patience.. Throughout their illustrious careers, both journalists were well-known for their level-headed exchanges with pundits from sundry political extremes. Before both journalists silenced guests on live television, viewers merely guessed at the polite composure both Tapper and Lemon held on their faces belied severe frustration with an interviewee. It was the Trump administration that marked the change. The myriad of calamities coupled with the malicious treatment of news organizations pushed moderate journalists to shed the postured guise of partisanship usually expected of reporters of their caliber. At this point, Mill's theory begins to falter. When anchors begin to have producers take guests off air, when writers avoid controversial subjects, journalism suffers. In desperate times, when the country's identity hangs in the balance, a journalist must do more than mind their business. They must do more than do no harm. They must do good. They did so in the early days of journalism when Pulitzer and Hearst were on the scene, and they must now do so again. Robert Bellah explains: “Democracy is an ongoing moral quest, not an end state." The SPJ writes that ethical journalism treats “sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public” with respect. Many professionals call themselves journalists without abiding by this moral code. Since the advent of the Internet, the gates have been opened, and freelancers flooded the space, garnering audience and attention by spewing harm and vitriol. The worrisome shift came when seasoned journalists from outlets like CNN, began to waver on the SPJ moral standards. None of the CNN's political analysts foresaw Trump's win, the same goes for the Washington Post, and the New York Times. Some could say, however, that the individualized and targeted approach to journalism allows myriad voices to become mainstream. In reality, this just allows citizens to seek out like-minded media, and not broaden their perspective and become compassionate in a way that transcends fault lines. Mill's argument falls short because it doesn't take into account the times during which the impact of a choice made with an individualistic or narrow point of view can have effects that are hard to quantify at the moment. Bellah's communalism is what the journalistic community so desperately needs. A 2014 Pew Research Poll found that consistent liberals trust a variety of news sources, mostly NPR, The New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC, while conservatives rally pretty strongly around Fox News, an outlet that consistent liberals widely mistrust. When half of the country, 47 percent, to be exact, is siphoned off onto one news outlet, there is clearly a dangerous imbalance of representation. It is important to consider that the above ‘liberal-approved' media has proven repeatedly to be superior in journalistic merit in almost every way. Nevertheless, there has been a dearth of action to help engage the untapped audience. Few understand why those who form a little under half of the country think and vote the way they do. Recently, there has been some analytical research into the sociological perspective, but I have rarely encountered journalism that transcends blatant condescension when addressing the viewpoints of low-income conservatives. NPR's “Marketplace” made economics accessible to the public. This is a solid approach. More liberal news media should do the same and appeal to a broader public by seeking to understand and therefore, write for those that rail against them. This means using the Facebook algorithm to reach those outside the liberal chasm. This means focusing on our leadership and the policy they propose, and steering away from incendiary journalism. This means checking personal frustration at the door. I do not suggest journalists support factual inaccuracies or hate speech, but rather that they engage the passive citizenry that sit in the middle of the spectrum, coerced by a side, that if not entirely appealing, at least made them feel welcome. Fellow journalists, unbutton your shirt, flatten your collar, and listen.

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