Fox News’ Howard Kurtz recently released his 2016 year in review and explained why he thought the mainstream media was the big loser of 2016. He explained that the liberal media had suffered during the 2016 election because of the way it handled Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, but he warned that things could still get worse for the media. In fact, Kurtz already sees the warning signs as the media continues to cater to liberal readers/viewers and seems to be working hard to undermine President-elect Trump before he ever gets started. Kurtz points to one example in particular – the way the media handled the days after Obama’s election compared to the way they have handled Trump’s victory.
The press needs to be aggressive against every administration. Report fairly, and accurately, and aggressively; do investigative reporting, hold them accountable. But the same standard needs to apply.
If you recall when Barack Obama won the mainstream media was in a celebratory mood and I don’t recall seeing all these stories, ‘What about all the people who didn’t support Obama?’ and how angry, upset or disappointed they are except to sort of lambaste the tea party. And therefore we have to be careful not to get swept away by the hope and change thing and report aggressively on Barack Obama. I missed those columns.
So here is the challenge. At a time when newsrooms are emptying out and the print model is broken because print advertising continues to go down and digital revenue is not coming anywhere near to closing that gap. Where fewer people are watching TV, and we may feel this more when it’s not an election year. When trust in journalism is at historic lows and that’s something that was perhaps exacerbated by the Trump candidacy, but certainly didn’t originate with that. We need more than even to be fair. Aggressive, yes. Accountability journalism, yes. We need to be fair. And to the extent that we can get back on that road, especially with a new president coming into office whose victory was predicted by virtually no one in this business, then maybe we can begin the slow process of winning back trust. If not, it’s going to continue to go down and the truth is, folks, credibility, trust is the only thing we have.
There is a million places you can get your news. You can get it on Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat, Instagram, you can just tune it out. So I hope 2017 turns out to be a rebuilding year for the media because we have a long way to go.