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Posts Tagged ‘Trump’

‘Liddle’ Bob Corker

In Ethics on 13 Oct 2017 at 7:32 am

What you see above was a middle paragraph in Peter Baker’s New York Times story about the ongoing acrimony between the president of the most powerful nation in the world and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Or, as Donald Trump calls him, “liddle Corker.”

Friends, these are strange days. When the news isn’t dominated by calamity on a global scale, it is littered with things like this. Small-minded inside attacks that are unworthy of public debate much less public office. In fact, you may ask yourself, is it news at all?

I think it is, when you are dealing with national offices and people who can create wars with a touch of a button. The state of mind of Bob Corker (who started it, I guess, by saying the White House was an “adult day care”) and Trump is of vital national interest. That is true for a range of what might to some seem private affairs. If you are a high-ranking senator or the president of the United States, there is no such thing as private.

But what if the above exchange occurred between, say, the mayor of your town and the city’s development director? Is that news? I think that is a much more difficult question for reasons I have a hard time articulating. Let me try.

For one thing, I think local officials are allowed to have private lives and private animosities. Sometimes. Otherwise, we’ll have a very hard time finding anyone (let alone someone qualified) to run for local public office. … Read the rest of this entry »


Should we just shut up?

In journalism on 27 Jan 2017 at 10:59 am
Steve Bannon, via Wikipedia

Steve Bannon, via Wikipedia

You probably heard that one of the president’s top advisers said this week that the media should “keep its mouth shut.” Strategist Steve Bannon labeled the media “the opposition party” and said it doesn’t have a clue and should just listen and stop talking. Ouch.

Of course, like the president himself, Bannon, the unapologetic leader of Breitbart News, says a lot of things. Perhaps we ought take his salty language with another grain of salt and not spend an inordinate amount of time whining about what he said.

Bannon’s calculation is that the people who elected his boss largely feel the same way. The define “the media” as an amorphous blob of eggheads in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. I think that he is right about one thing: Many people don’t go for navel gazing like I’m doing here. They don’t care if our feelings are hurt and don’t have time for existential crisis on the value of a free press in a just society.

I don’t think he or his believers are thinking of the New Iberia Daily Iberian when they talk of the media. After all, he invited our own Matt Lindberg onto his plane not so long ago. … Read the rest of this entry »

Did journalism lose on Tuesday?

In journalism on 10 Nov 2016 at 4:09 pm


Let me begin by saying I’m not making a value judgment here about who won the 2016 presidential election. Instead, I want to discuss a phenomenon now in full bloom: journalistic navel-gazing and whether this period of reflection about the role of journalism in the election means anything significant. I certainly hope that it does, but for reasons that go beyond the election.

The screenshot above is what my computer conjured when I went to Google News and typed “journalism election.” It’s clear that many, many observers believe journalism — our profession — contributed to something terrible this week. I’m inclined to agree that we have gotten into some really lazy habits, and that would be true irrespective of the outcome. I believe too many journalists were reduced to punditry, reprinting tweets and scouring the crowd for nutty outliers rather than reporting on what it’s really like to live in places like Pierre, S.D., New Iberia, La., and Half Moon Bay, Calif. A related problem is reliance on data rather than human interaction.

Here is an ugly truth: Many people in our profession don’t attempt to know much about the people who buy their product unless that knowledge is conveyed on an analytics dashboard. On a national level, when they parachute into flyover country, journalists often return with stories of the man-bites-dog variety. These stories sometimes read as if written by Spanish explorers in correspondence to the queen. You won’t believe what they are up to in the savage country! … Read the rest of this entry »

Aboard Air Trump

In journalism on 20 Oct 2016 at 3:19 pm
Montrose's Matt Lindberg and an unidentified man in a tie.

Montrose’s Matt Lindberg and an unidentified man in a tie.

Montrose Daily Press Managing Editor Matt Lindberg knew when Donald Trump planned a rally in nearby Grand Junction that the circus was coming to town. He didn’t know he would be invited into the tent to see the ringmaster himself up close and personal.

He says that he got a call from a Trump operative on Tuesday morning, just before the presidential candidate was scheduled to speak before 10,000 people on the Western Slope of Colorado. Lindberg was being invited on the Trump plane for a one-on-one interview with one of the most controversial men in recent history.

“I was told I would get a call from an unknown number during the rally, and I needed to answer,” Matt wrote to me in an email. “Then I would be escorted to the plane. That happened.”

Matt and Daily Press sports editor Richard Reeder got an uninterrupted 20 minutes with The Donald while ensconced in the candidate’s largely gold-plated jet.

Matt says his goal was to capture some of the flavor of the man rather than give another report from another rally. I couldn’t agree more.

Matt’s reporting from that day is interesting, personal, clean and would be worth the price of the paper to anyone in the area who is interested in presidential politics in this unprecedented year. (By the way, the story is behind a paywall or I would share it with you. I have mixed feelings about the paywall concept, but this is certainly an instance when it increases the value of the paid product.) Matt pulled out local nuggets. Trump said he had been to the area before and found the Western Slope of Colorado beautiful. He asked Matt where he thought the people came from for the rally. Matt said he talked to one attendee from as far away as Utah. … Read the rest of this entry »

About that speech

In Ethics on 22 Jul 2016 at 8:27 am


There was a bit of an uproar on the plagiarism beat this week. Perhaps you heard.

This time the culprit (or victim, depending on your perspective, I guess) was Melania Trump. Her speech before the Republican National Committee on Monday was, in places, word-for-word the same as Michelle Obama’s speech before Democrats eight years earlier. I guess that means the two sides agree on more than they will admit.

If I were a plagiarist, I would call stealing words the unoriginal sin. Since I’m not, I’ll tell you that line comes from Poynter’s Peter Roy Clark. And sin it is. There is no greater sin in our business than taking passages from someone else and passing them off as your own. It’s unethical and it can get you fired.

Because it is so important, please take a moment to read Benjamin Mullin’s good and short explanation of plagiarism on the Poynter site. He walks us through the kinds of plagiarism and their definition.

Look: Journalists who take the words of others aren’t really journalists at all. It’s like buying the cookies at the grocery store, transferring them into your Tupperware and calling yourself a baker. It’s ludicrous and a lie. Let’s stipulate that we aren’t liars. … Read the rest of this entry »

The candidate and the press

In Writing on 16 Jun 2016 at 12:59 pm

trump pic

You might have heard that presumptive Republican presidential nominee and all-around feisty guy Donald Trump has revoked the Washington Post’s credentials to cover his campaign. Perhaps, like me, you didn’t even know you needed credentials to cover a presidential campaign. Learn something every day.

Turns out, the WashPo has to get in line in this one. Trump has already revoked credentials for Politico, Huffington Post and other news outlets.

It’s a curious move, and one that does not bode well should he eventually occupy the Oval Office.

Generally, candidates clamor for the free publicity they receive in our news pages. My guess is that Trump falls in the camp that believes there really is no such thing as bad publicity. Nevertheless, he seems to equate “things he doesn’t like” with “dishonesty.” There has, of course, been a lot of reporting on the Trump campaign that is hard to gussy up. There has been negative reporting on Trump University and the candidate’s lifelong relationship with women, to name just two examples.

Which is really neither here nor there. Washington Post Editor Marty Baron – the same guy who ran the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, by the way – has said that the unofficial newspaper of the federal government will continue with rigorous coverage of Trump’s campaign even if access to the candidate is restricted. I don’t doubt him a bit. It’s really no different than a mayor in New Iberia becoming miffed at the Daily Iberian and refusing to comment in future stories. It doesn’t mean the Daily Iberian will quit asking tough questions. … Read the rest of this entry »

What we are missing

In Media on 25 Mar 2016 at 8:49 am

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 12.37.39 PM

This is not a post about Donald Trump. This is a discussion about us, and the things we’ve been getting wrong.

David Brooks is making me write this. Well, not exactly. But my ruminations were spawned by his column last week, headlined, “No, not Trump, not ever.” As you might surmise from a headline like that, Brooks – an unabashed conservative who often explains the virtue in Republican positions – is not enamored with Trump.

Which is neither here nor there, and not why I’m writing this. It’s not the headline that stopped me, but rather something buried in the column:

… many in the media, especially me, did not understand how (Trump voters) would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.

There it is. The rare admission that beltway journalists from from polite society are not well connected with the folks about whom they are endlessly squawking. The esteemed prognosticator Nate Silver made a similar acknowledgment recently when he called the Bernie Sanders’ Michigan victory an epic defeat for pollsters. … Read the rest of this entry »