Enough with "both sides"! Faux-neutral journalism is no way to fight the truth-deniers

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  john-russell  •  2 weeks ago  •  58 comments

By:   Dan Froomkin (Salon)

Enough with "both sides"! Faux-neutral journalism is no way to fight the truth-deniers
With Trump defeated, journalists can't just retreat back to "objectivity" — not with America's future at stake

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The conventional wisdom among the leaders of our major newsrooms is that the best way to reach people who believe crazy, awful things is to remain neutral.

They maintain that taking sides would actually make news organizations even less credible with that particular population.

"We face an enormous burden of people who think that, if we're from one side or the other, they're just going to tune out and not pay attention to the world's best journalism," Associated Press executive editor Sally Buzbee said in September.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has repeatedly embraced what he calls "sophisticated true objectivity" as a defense against those who would have the Times counter falsehoods more assertively. You don't call it a lie, he has said. "Let somebody else call it a lie." (See "NYT editor Dean Baquet wants his reporters to keep an "open" mind — or maybe an empty one" and "Dean Baquet interview makes clear New York Times still ruled by both-sides-ism.")

Countering the reformers' view that balanced criticism is naive at this stage in American politics, National Public Radio public editor Kelly McBride recently described the dominant newsroom view as believing "that our current experience is particular to the Trump presidency, that American politics will eventually regain equilibrium, and that journalism's attachment to neutrality should remain consistent in order to remain effective over the long run."

But more than 73 million people voted for Trump in the presidential election, suggesting that the strain of overt fact-rejection nurtured by the right wing is still very much with us — and unlikely to succumb any time soon to more journalistic business-as-usual.

Several journalism professors — among 151 academics who contributed to a new, wide-ranging collection of essays, "U.S. Election Analysis 2020: Media, Voters and the Campaign" — argue that if journalism is to rise to the challenge of the moment, it has to change.

Seth C. Lewis from the University of Oregon, Matt Carlson from the University of Minnesota and Sue Robinson from the University of Wisconsin-Madison write that "traditional journalistic practices remain more-or-less intact" even as "the overall media environment has changed radically" with the advent of a powerful right-wing media machine that massively spreads disinformation.

That's not going to work, they write. Journalists "will never rebuild trust among people who feel marginalized by news by simply offering more of the same — more helpings of 'just good, accurate news.'"

And they pose (rather than answer) a crucial question:

Doubling down on high-quality information is not without merit, but it misses the essence of the challenge ahead: How does one do journalism in a way that appeals to people's core identities, particularly as those identities fracture and diverge and confound traditional universals?

Nikki Usher, who teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, argues that the election results make clear that the institutional news media needs to stop ducking issues of race — and needs to embrace antiracism as a core value of journalism.

"This 71 million turnout of people endorsing racism is a reminder that the U.S. has not interrogated its past and the institutional news media has largely avoided doing so," she writes.

The "reluctance to see racial equity as a basic news value rather than as a political orientation," she writes, "is objectivity gone wrong."

Usher closes with a powerful quote from an important journalist disrupter:

Wendi Thomas, award-winning investigative journalist and editor of social justice news outlet MLK50 wrote to me after I asked for ways to make this very argument to my other colleagues, "Newsrooms have always operated under some foundational truths: It's good for people to have enough food to eat. Shelter is important. Quality education matters. … That expanding those truths — in the face of undeniable and incontrovertible quantitative and qualitative evidence that Black life is devalued and endangered in every way that can be measured — strikes the old guard as a violation of objectivity shows that the facts don't matter as much to your senior colleagues as much as they might argue."

Usher has more to say in a post on Medium this week about the overall need for reporters to take a firmer stand on core issues. She argues that "information on its own cannot win the battle against slick misinformation that comes from trusted GOP news sources."

In short, reality-based journalists need to fight back on behalf of truth as hard as the right-wing media fights on behalf of disinformation. (See my essay on the final collapse of "objective" political reporting.)

Usher calls on reporters to put a "moral valence" around their reporting. Euphemistically calling lies "falsehoods," for instance, is "a far weaker form of journalism than journalism emboldened by a willingness to use the strength of morality to make a claim."

(The reformer journalist Wesley Lowery famously describes this desired state as "moral clarity." As I wrote in support of Lowery's argument: "Journalists shouldn't pretend they know the answers. We should just stop pretending we don't know what the problems are.")

Lastly, Victor Pickard, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, sees the corporate media embracing a pre-Trump status quo as an excuse to continue its "abiding reliance on official sources and deference to power."

But that means failing to confront the media's disastrous conduct during the Trump era:

While it's refreshing that many media organizations have finally stopped deferring to Trump, we must look seriously at the role they have played in normalizing fascistic politics — as well as the structural factors that cause these institutions to predictably fail in advancing democratic aims.

And it means failing to serve the actual needs of the American people at a moment of multiple crises:

[I]f the U.S. is to tackle the daunting problems it faces — climate change, deep structural inequalities, monopoly power, mass incarceration and other forms of systemic racism — the status quo should not be preserved; it should be radically changed.

I suspect that the leaders of major corporate newsrooms are breathing a sigh of relief not just because the election is over but because they hope reformers will stop pushing them to become more aggressive about fighting racism and disinformation and other urgent challenges to our democracy and our nation.

But I think the pushing has just begun.


Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
smarty_function_ntUser_is_admin: user_id parameter required
[]
 
JohnRussell
1  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago
more than 73 million people voted for Trump in the presidential election, suggesting that the strain of overt fact-rejection nurtured by the right wing is still very much with us — and unlikely to succumb any time soon to more journalistic business-as-usual. Several journalism professors — among 151 academics who contributed to a new, wide-ranging collection of essays, "U.S. Election Analysis 2020: Media, Voters and the Campaign" — argue that if journalism is to rise to the challenge of the moment, it has to change.
 
 
 
Kathleen
1.1  Kathleen  replied to  JohnRussell @1    2 weeks ago

So let me get this straight. I voted for Trump. I am pro-choice, I believe in equality for all races.  I am not religious and believe in separation of church and state, I believe the gay community should have the same rights as anyone else.  I never judge people by their skin color or their religious beliefs only what's in their heart.  So just because I voted for Trump, you are calling me a racist. 

That only says that you do not know what you are talking about when it comes to people in general. 

There are racists in all parties and backgrounds, it's time to knock off the sweeping generalizations. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
1.1.1  Texan1211  replied to  Kathleen @1.1    2 weeks ago

According to some on the extreme left, a vote for Trump proves to them that you are a racist, and nothing else will deter them from spreading that LIE.

 
 
 
Kathleen
1.1.2  Kathleen  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.1    2 weeks ago

Well then, maybe I should not care what the extreme left thinks.....

 
 
 
Texan1211
1.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  Kathleen @1.1.2    2 weeks ago

true--I don't allow idiots to define me.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
1.1.4  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Kathleen @1.1    2 weeks ago

There has never been even one minute of time since Trump became a birther in 2011 that his appeal has not been to white grievance.  That may not be one hundred percent of his appeal, but it is what his political career is based on and continues to be based on. 

I don't think all Trump's voters are racists, and there are degrees of racism, but what Trump is has always been clear. And you voted for him. In and of itself, not even considering any other factor, his use of birtherism to launch his political career should have ended it.  But it didn't. 

 
 
 
Kathleen
1.1.5  Kathleen  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.4    2 weeks ago
I don't think all Trump's voters are racists

From your past posts, that is hard to believe.

 
 
 
Tacos!
1.1.6  Tacos!  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.4    2 weeks ago
white grievance

What does that mean? 

How are concerns like bringing jobs back to America, fairer trade practices, more secure borders, or bringing troops home from abroad specifically white grievance issues?

 
 
 
bugsy
1.1.7  bugsy  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.4    2 weeks ago
white grievance.

Only white grievance I have ever witnessed has come from white liberals.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  seeder  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago
Nikki Usher, who teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, argues that the election results make clear that the institutional news media needs to stop ducking issues of race — and needs to embrace antiracism as a core value of journalism.

"This 71 million turnout of people endorsing racism is a reminder that the U.S. has not interrogated its past and the institutional news media has largely avoided doing so," she writes.

The "reluctance to see racial equity as a basic news value rather than as a political orientation," she writes, "is objectivity gone wrong."
 
 
 
Greg Jones
3  Greg Jones    2 weeks ago

Rumors of racism aren't necessarily true.

 
 
 
Texan1211
3.1  Texan1211  replied to  Greg Jones @3    2 weeks ago

Accusing all 70+ million who voted for Trump of being racists will surely make any Trump voter change their mind about the objectivity of journalists, right?

/s

 
 
 
Tacos!
4  Tacos!    2 weeks ago
But more than 73 million people voted for Trump in the presidential election, suggesting that the strain of overt fact-rejection nurtured by the right wing is still very much with us

Not really. It only suggests that if you're arrogant enough to assume that anyone who disagrees with you must be rejecting facts. But making such sweeping negative assumptions about people solely on the basis of different political preferences is practically the dictionary definition of "bigotry."

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Tacos! @4    2 weeks ago

Trumpism creates, promotes , and wallows in "alternative facts" . Alternative facts are not facts. If the 73 million want to be described in another way, they need to reject Trumpism. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.1  Tacos!  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1    2 weeks ago
Trumpism creates, promotes , and wallows in "alternative facts" .

What is Trumpism?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.2  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.1    2 weeks ago
What is Trumpism?

It's absolute faith in Donald Trump, to the point of believing the President's word, above all else. 

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
4.1.3  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.1    2 weeks ago
What is Trumpism?

Trumpism starts with manufacturing an alternative narrative Trump and his sycophants wish were true instead of accepting reality as it is. Trumpism is ignoring facts while amplifying lies that make themselves look good and label themselves as some "American Hero's" and celebrates ignorance while ridiculing education and truth. Trumpism embraces the fantasy universe of a white Christian patriarchy while lashing out at minorities, liberals, progressives and anyone who doesn't look like them or worship like they do. Trumpism fans the old flames of the confederacy and white grievance, protects confederate monuments and the confederate flag and claims it isn't the symbol of hate any rational American knows it is. Trumpism protects Donald Trump, not the constitution and believes Trumps lies over the law. Trumpism bully's opponents, threatens immigrants and attacks diversity. Trumpism is a sickness, an evil in a white hood that believes only white Christians can be "true Americans" and everyone else should just be grateful the white Christians let them live here as second class citizens. That is Trumpism.

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.4  Tacos!  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.2    2 weeks ago

I guess we'll log that as your opinion. I still await John's.

Meanwhile, do you make the bigoted assumption that all 73 million people who voted for Trump have "absolute faith in Donald Trump, to the point of believing the President's word, above all else?"

And if so, how do you feel about people making sweeping generalizations about every last person who voted for Biden? Or do you think that would require a more nuanced examination?

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.5  Tacos!  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.1.3    2 weeks ago
absolute faith in Donald Trump, to the point of believing the President's word, above all else

So is it possible to make the choice to vote for Trump without being an adherent of Trumpism?

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
4.1.6  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.5    2 weeks ago
So is it possible to make the choice to vote for Trump without being an adherent of Trumpism?

Yes, there are likely many who don't really adhere to Trumpism but believed all the lies pushed by their right wing friends and neighbors about the supposedly "evil baby eating Democrats". There are likely also some conservatives who felt attacked by the push back on Trumpism simply because they are conservatives and support Trump because Trump now says he's "pro-life" even though he was pro-choice for the first 65 years of his life.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.7  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.4    2 weeks ago

I am not going to humor you any more. 

If you havent discovered what Trumpism is after 5 years of this shit, you never will. 

by the way, trumpism is a word in the dictionary

Trumpism | Dictionary.com

www.dictionary.com/e/slang/trumpism

Mar 01, 2018  ·   Trumpism   refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by US President Donald Trump and his supporters. The term   Trumpism   can also be used to directly refer to an outrageous or idiosyncratic statement made by Donald   Trump .

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.8  Tacos!  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.7    2 weeks ago
I am not going to humor you any more. 

You mean from the most basic of challenges to your bigoted dogma.

trumpism is a word in the dictionary

It is apparently a slang word in the dictionary for whatever that's worth.

Trumpism   refers to the nontraditional political philosophy and approach espoused by US President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Do you endorse that definition? Is that what you meant? It's pretty vague. "Nontraditional political philosophy and approach" could be anything. Hard to know what it even means.

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.9  Tacos!  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.1.6    2 weeks ago
believed all the lies pushed by their right wing friends and neighbors about the supposedly "evil baby eating Democrats"

Cuz that happened.

There are likely also some conservatives who felt attacked by the push back on Trumpism simply because they are conservatives and support Trump because Trump now says he's "pro-life" even though he was pro-choice for the first 65 years of his life.

I think that's probably true on a number of issues.

I think 73 million people can cast a vote for a weird guy for a lot of legitimate reasons that don't involve "rejecting facts."

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.10  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.4    2 weeks ago
Meanwhile, do you make the bigoted assumption that all 73 million people who voted for Trump have "absolute faith in Donald Trump, to the point of believing the President's word, above all else?"

I try to never make bigoted assumptions. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.11  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.5    2 weeks ago
So is it possible to make the choice to vote for Trump without being an adherent of Trumpism?

In 2016, probably. In 2020, no. 

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
4.1.12  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.9    2 weeks ago
Cuz that happened.

"QAnon’ book claiming Democrats eat children is climbing the Amazon charts"

I think 73 million people can cast a vote for a weird guy for a lot of legitimate reasons that don't involve "rejecting facts."

He's far worse than just "weird", he is a danger to America and those ignoring or rejecting that fact should be ashamed of themselves regardless of the supposed reason they use to justify their vote. If they think supporting a vile liar just because he told them he'd push their anti-choice religious agenda was worth slitting the throat of democracy then they deserve all the anger and vitriol they receive.

 
 
 
MAGA
4.1.13  MAGA  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.1.12    2 weeks ago

We stand proudly with our support for President Trump and intend to keep the populist conservative nationalism of Trumpism alive far longer than his own natural time on earth.  Trump has molded the GOP into a multiracial theistic party of the working and middle class.  

 
 
 
GregTx
4.1.14  GregTx  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.10    2 weeks ago

And yet then you do.

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.15  Tacos!  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.11    2 weeks ago
In 2016, probably. In 2020, no. 

Do you see the contradiction in that statement and this one:

I try to never make bigoted assumptions.

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.16  Tacos!  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @4.1.12    2 weeks ago
He's far worse than just

I see this so much around here. Any time I say something critical or otherwise negative about Trump, somebody has to insist that it's somehow insufficient. It's like there is a contest to see who can be the most outraged and therefore demonstrate their moral superiority. smh

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.17  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.8    2 weeks ago

Tacos, discussing with you is a waste of time. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.18  Tacos!  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.17    2 weeks ago

You actually discussing something would be a refreshing change.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.19  Bob Nelson  replied to  GregTx @4.1.14    2 weeks ago

Put up or shut up, Greg... 

Link to a quote from me or admit you're makin' shit up again

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.20  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.15    2 weeks ago

No. 

You may need to re-read the definition of "bigoted". 

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.21  Tacos!  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.20    2 weeks ago

As may you.

Bigotry: prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group

Thus: 

Me: So is it possible to make the choice to vote for Trump without being an adherent of Trumpism?
Your answer: In 2016, probably. In 2020, no.

So you make negative assumptions about people based solely on the fact that they voted for Trump. I'd say that fits the definition of bigotry rather neatly.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4.1.22  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.21    2 weeks ago

Donald Trump is a KNOWN serial liar, crook, bigot, moron, and cheat.  Do you think that political support for such a person should just fall under the category of personal preference? 

 
 
 
Texan1211
4.1.23  Texan1211  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.21    2 weeks ago

Kind of weird for him to say that after claiming the right wants to redefine words.

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.24  Tacos!  replied to  JohnRussell @4.1.22    2 weeks ago
Donald Trump is a KNOWN serial liar, crook, bigot, moron, and cheat.

I could say all those things about Biden. So what's your excuse? 

No, no. Wait. Let me guess. "Trump does it more. That makes it ok."

Am I right?

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.25  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.21    2 weeks ago

Jeez! 

There's no prejudice involved. My appreciation is based on what these people did. Not on who they are. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.26  Bob Nelson  replied to  Tacos! @4.1.24    2 weeks ago

The difference is that proof of Trump's malfeasance is all over the media. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
4.1.27  Greg Jones  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.10    2 weeks ago
I try to never make bigoted assumptions. 

But you do, consistently

 
 
 
Greg Jones
4.1.28  Greg Jones  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.26    2 weeks ago
The difference is that proof of Trump's malfeasance is all over the media.

And yet you never define it or show your "proof".

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.29  Bob Nelson  replied to  Greg Jones @4.1.27    2 weeks ago

An example? 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.30  Bob Nelson  replied to  Greg Jones @4.1.28    2 weeks ago

If you don't see it, almost every day... then it's obvious you'll reject anything I might present. I'm not going to waste my time. 

 
 
 
Tacos!
4.1.31  Tacos!  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.26    2 weeks ago
The difference is that proof of Trump's malfeasance is all over the media. 

So was Biden's when he ran for president earlier in his career. Conveniently, the media and the Democrats have decided to forget all about that. More recently, his obvious and racist condescensions regarding Indian Americans, Obama's ability to be articulate, or his pride in working with segregationists should still be clear in everyone's mind, but we have decided to dismiss all that as well. All we have to do is claim (as if there were some scientific measurement) that Trump is worse and that makes it all ok.

 
 
 
GregTx
4.1.32  GregTx  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.19    2 weeks ago

4.1.11

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.33  Bob Nelson  replied to  GregTx @4.1.32    2 weeks ago

               jrSmiley_123_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
MAGA
4.2  MAGA  replied to  Tacos! @4    2 weeks ago

That sums it all up just right...

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
5  Bob Nelson    2 weeks ago
The "reluctance to see racial equity as a basic news value rather than as a political orientation," she writes, "is objectivity gone wrong."

The right makes a concerted effort to "frame the discussion". The right abuses vocabulary, twisting words to new meanings, and then hammering those new meanings into the mainstream. Gradually, the mainstream is shifted to the vocabulary that the right desires.

... and the mainstream seems to be unaware that it is being manipulated.

Meanwhile, the mainstream supposes itself to know what's going on in the US of A.....  jrSmiley_27_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Texan1211
5.1  Texan1211  replied to  Bob Nelson @5    2 weeks ago
The right makes a concerted effort to "frame the discussion". The right abuses vocabulary, twisting words to new meanings, and then hammering those new meanings into the mainstream. Gradually, the mainstream is shifted to the vocabulary that the right desires.

... and the mainstream seems to be unaware that it is being manipulated.

Meanwhile, the mainstream supposes itself to know what's going on in the US of A..

Oh, FFS. Please stop acting as if the left doesn't do the same exact things you are now bitching about.

Take how "illegal aliens" became "undocumented people". Same thing you are bitching the right does.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
6  Sean Treacy    2 weeks ago

Reality is not the friend of anyone who believes the coverage of Trump the last  four years was neutral 

 
 
 
Texan1211
6.1  Texan1211  replied to  Sean Treacy @6    2 weeks ago

Makes me wonder if the press will be too busy trashing the Trump Administration to pay any attention to anything the Biden Administration does.

No end to TDS, apparently.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
6.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Texan1211 @6.1    2 weeks ago

If the "questions" at the press conferences so far are an indication, Biden could commit ritual human sacrifice on the white house lawn and the media would ask him why Trump is so mean. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
6.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Sean Treacy @6.1.1    2 weeks ago

I suspect the toughest question Biden will face is "What topping do you prefer on ice cream?"

 
 
 
MUVA
6.1.3  MUVA  replied to  Sean Treacy @6.1.1    2 weeks ago

The leftist media has profected glad handing of democrat politicians look no further than the 8 years of Obama.Remember the tuff questions he got like why are you so fabulous and is it hard being the smartest person in the world?  

 
 
 
JohnRussell
6.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @6    2 weeks ago

Why would anyone be "neutral" about the most unfit for office president in American history?   The idea is absurd. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
6.2.1  Texan1211  replied to  JohnRussell @6.2    2 weeks ago

Absurd?

Like promoting I Hate Trump articles for over 4 years now?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
6.2.2  Greg Jones  replied to  JohnRussell @6.2    2 weeks ago

Your opinions are uninformed and absurd.

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online


Vic Eldred
Kavika
Sean Treacy
CB
igknorantzrulz
pat wilson
Ender
arkpdx
cjcold
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom


49 visitors