Does Trump’s rise signal need for media reinvention?

Does Trump’s rise signal need for media reinvention?
February 17, 2017 Aaron Walling

After reading the ‘Boundaries’ of journalism, an article on a recent Harvard panel discussion about journalism today, there is one word that comes to mind, pessimistic.

The impression left is the journalism world needs to change itself; reinvent itself in this new era under President Trump. From that perspective, we are only looking at this from the con side.

What made this first part hard to pinpoint is that writer of the article, Shang Wang relies a lot on Bill Kristol’s contributions to the discussion. Kristol is a conservative political analyst, who points out that Republicans haven’t done so well since Fox News came on the scene.

When I speak to conservatives, I always remind them: when were the great conservative victories? Reagan in 1980, 1984, Bush 1988. Huge, lopsided victories, three of them in a row. Rush Limbaugh was not yet on talk radio. Fox News didn’t yet exist. The Internet didn’t yet exist. All these things — the conservative media didn’t exist. It really was The New York Times, The Washington Post, and three networks, which were mostly moderate-liberal at least. Nonetheless, that was the heyday of conservative policies. And incidentally, ever since Fox News took over and became such a big deal, Republicans have lost the presidential popular vote in every election but one, 2004. –-Bill Kristol, Boundaries panel


I would like to say that Wang’s article takes journalism to a spectrum that isn’t a good spot for it. For example, we can have differing opinions in this world, but that doesn’t mean one’s opinion affects the entire narrative. Both of these people are taking this point that Fox News is the cause of this. I am not a fan of Fox News myself, but to blame them for the Republican party not winning the popular vote in a long time smells of industry desperation. The media is supposed to inform people of what is going on. Kristol wants to blame social media and the internet for this “downfall”.

What Wang and Kristol are failing to understand, is that their frustration over this is not with Fox News, but with the people associated with it. Republicans over the years have said some controversial things, and so have Democrats, but it seems internet and social media posters go after Republicans more often. Once more, Wang didn’t view the possibility that Fox News isn’t responsible for this; many people are against some of the views expressed by the network’s conservative analysts.

This leads us to delve deeper into what Wang is trying to convey to the reader. This is where her point about news needing to go back to it roots– before Fox News– falls through.

As journalist, we are suppose to be objective and unbiased. Now I know that not every reporter can be like that; we have our opinions ourselves. However, when you begin to bring in people from your workplace to make a point that the public’s trust in the media is “a glass one-tenth full,” that screams desperation. Wang needs to make her own decisions to formulate her plan to fix it. She used Kristol’s comments in the article. She could have done that for Ann Marie Lipinski, or simply had a hyperlink to this forum that happened. As a journalist we are to report on what is occurring, what is relevant to the reader. Writing that the glass is one-tenth full conveys the future is bleak.

For this article, Wang raised some good points, but she deemed it was her job to lay down the boundaries.

In reality, the trust in media has been ruined by our own hands, there is no quick fix resolution to mend it. Only time will tell if Wang and Kristol’s comments hold water, or if the ship sinks further and faster under President Trump’s criticism.


Aaron Walling
Aaron Walling is a senior at the University of Alaska Fairbanks studying Journalism. He is also a freelance writer for the Sun Star, where he covers everything to do with Nanook sports at UAF. He also works as an undergraduate research assistant, assisting Communication's Public Speaking program. Aaron was born and raised in a military family.


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