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Donald may do us all a favour

That the media are far too cosy with the powers-that-be is nothing new.    How can one be objective, and preserve those unattributed leaks, unless one stays on the "right" side of the politician?

Trump has turned things on its head by declaring the media "an enemy".    

Juan Cole, at Informed Comment in a piece "Spurned Reporters Should Dump Trump Briefings and Turn to Investigative Journalism" (republished on truthdig) says that perhaps now the press will do its job and fulfil its proper role....

"Something is broken in American journalism.  Maybe it is the “inverted pyramid” whereby US reporters put the “most important thing” first in the article.  It has been pointed out that this way of organizing the article gives an unfair advantage to a duplicitous administration, since anything the president says goes first in the article.  Bush and his people used this principle to game the press all the time.  (When the scandal about US personnel torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq broke on a Thursday evening, Bush quickly came out and condemned the practice.  The Friday headlines were “President condemns torture at Abu Ghraib.”)

Or maybe it is access journalism, whereby an administration adopts a few favored writers and feeds them scoops that it suits the administration to go on the front page.

Or maybe it is the news conference.  Why privilege an administration’s narrative about itself by doing articles based on nothing more than hot air coming from the general direction of the West Wing?

Most major newspapers in the US, when there were major print newspapers, used to have an investigative journalism team.  With the decline of ad revenue and the hard times on which journalism has fallen, investigative journalism has often been abandoned.  Administrations and the Washington bureaucracy don’t like a young journalist nosing around.  ProPublica, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and some other independent organizations (often with limited resources) have been left to try to fill the gap left when big media cut back on investigative reporting.

But we need that back, big time, in this administration.  Everywhere you dig in Trump’s cabinet, you find bodies.  So instead of sitting in a room being fed falsehoods by Spicer or Trump, best for the journalists to be working contacts in the White House or at NSC or the Pentagon to get the real story.  Enough people in Washington are appalled by the Trump-Bannon attempt to fascize America that they seem willing to leak damaging information all on their own.  How much better if a trained journalist got those stories through initiative.

So here’s to Trump excluding virtually all the newspapers and cable channels.  Let him.  Go get the scoops he doesn’t want you to have.

Someone (probably not George Orwell) once said, “News is something somebody doesn’t want printed; all else is advertising.”  Whoever said it, truer words were never spoken.

We need less advertising (or “public relations” in some versions), and a helluva lot more journalism these days."


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