Wick Communications

‘Takeover’

In journalism on October 26, 2017 at 2:42 pm

If you are a fan of journalism, if you believe this thing we do is ultimately our salvation, please find a copy of the Fall 2017 edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. (Or read it here.) It’s a must-read for anyone producing journalism in the United States today.

The entire issue is dedicated to the relationship between President Donald Trump and the press, and what that means for a society that feels perpetually on the brink these days.

The magazine offers a deep dive into the role of Ivanka Trump in the White House and how her interactions with the press through the years might shape what we see now. A former editor of the New York Observer tells how then publisher (now first son-in-law) Jared Kushner ordered a “hit piece” on a bank executive the Trumps thought had done them wrong. CJR gives us a rollicking history of the White House press room, and a truly scary look at what it’s like to cover a political protest these days. …

Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger presents the evolution of American thought on the First Amendment that leads us right to a president who seems to question the very right of a free press to exist. It’s a stunning development since, as Bollinger writes, “The First Amendment has become much more than a legal doctrine. It is a core part of the American identity.”

If there is a silver lining in the dark clouds that currently obscure the American promise, it might be found in a familiar precedent: Watergate.

Former New York Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan notes that she and thousands of others like her (including the man writing these words) were inspired 45 years ago by the Washington Post reporting that took down a crooked president. With that in mind, she suggests we take heart. She quotes a 22-year-old recent journalism graduate named Scott Nover.

“We want to run into the fire, whatever that involves: the financial instability, the lack of job security, the waning respect,” Nover said. “The more I see in Washington, the more I feel like I need to be a journalist. It’s more a calling than a choice.”

That sounds awfully familiar to a generation of us.

Clay

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