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A Call For Activists For Journalism

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A Call For Activists For Journalism

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The press post-mortem, CNN

Well, that was quite the spectacle.

In his first news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday likened the U.S. intelligence community to Nazi Germany, talked about himself in the third person as he described Vladimir Putin’s affection for him, and attacked not one but two news organizations.

He refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, accusing him of working for “fake news.” He called BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage” for publishing 35 pages of unverified allegations about ties between Trump and the Russian government.

“I think they’re going to suffer the consequences,” he said about BuzzFeed.

He also predicted, “I will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.”

“And I mean that,” he added, in case anyone might have wondered aloud, “Did he just say ‘God’?”

Oh, yeah.

For the rest of that afternoon, emergency alert tests kept popping up on my TV screen. Coincidental, I’m sure, but it does have a way of focusing one’s mind.

CNN, by the way, only reported that both President Barack Obama and Trump had received a two-page synopsis of the allegations, without providing details. Trump still thinks CNN is stinky. So there.

Social media were full of criticism of the other reporters in the room for not defending Acosta in the moment. I hope to see such unity in the future, but I won’t pile on here. We’ve never seen the likes of this. No president loves the media, but in the past, they’ve typically vented their grievances privately and, sometimes, strategically.

Trump hates us and loves reminding all of America just how much. The journalists in that room had a lot of questions and no idea how long they’d have before he shut the whole thing down. I appreciate their attempts to get answers, even after it was clear that Trump had no intention of giving straight answers.

Everything’s going to be very, very great. That’s all you need to know.

As for BuzzFeed, this is not its finest hour.

Its initial explanation for the story: “BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.”

That’s not what we’re supposed to do as journalists. Our job is to hunt down the claims and prove or disprove them. “Sources,” we call them. “Facts,” too.

In a memo to staff, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith wrote: “As we noted in our story, there is serious reason to doubt the allegations. We have been chasing specific claims in this document for weeks, and will continue to.

“Publishing this document was not an easy or simple call, and people of good will may disagree with our choice. But publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

I would not characterize myself as one of those people of goodwill at this moment. As a journalist, I’m steamin’ mad right now, because the last thing we need is a high-profile example of jumping the gun for clicks. As someone teaching future journalists, this is Exhibit A of what will not happen in any classroom of mine.

In the meantime, more of us journalists need to become advocates for our profession. One of the things that newspapers got so wrong during their heyday was the insistence that we shouldn’t promote what we do. The work speaks for itself, editors used to tell us. Do a good job and the readers will find you.

Boy, was that a losing strategy.

Still, journalists get squeamish at the notion of being activists for anything, for obvious reasons. But that’s what we need to be now. We must let our readers and viewers know how we do what we do and why it matters.

It’ll be a slog, if Twitter is any indication. After Trump’s news conference, I tweeted about the importance of being an activist for journalism. Trump supporters climbed all over that one, calling me the kind of stuff best left for those dark fantasies most people don’t say out loud.

It’s clear that the angriest of Trump supporters feel emboldened by his election and his behavior ever since.

What they don’t seem to understand yet is that so do we.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism.

IMAGE: A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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24 Comments

  1. Godzilla January 12, 2017

    The Liberal propaganda media is on life support and if many of us have our way, you will die a quick death. Lies will be exposed, daily. After all, lie, it’s what you do.

    Reply
    1. mike January 12, 2017

      I guess all those left leaning journalist, over 90% of profession, will now become less an ideolog and more objective to the story. Not holding my breath.
      Why this perversion of journalism was reported by CNN, a story that has been around for months, researched and found not to have merit, can only be explained as hit job. Even Tom Brokaw said he looked at it, couldn’t verify and walked away.
      In 42 minutes Trump answered more questions that Obama did in twice that time.

      1. JPHALL January 12, 2017

        You both, Mike and Godzilla, are truly delusional!

        1. mike January 12, 2017

          Which part? that 90% of journalist lean way to the left.
          CNN report was not a form journalist perverson? Or Brokaw didn’t say NO!
          Trumps answering more questions in 42 minutes than Obama did in twice the time?
          Which part was delusional.

          1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 12, 2017

            “LEFT-RIGHT, LEFT-RIGHT—Let’s go Right Wing, RAH! RAH! RAH!”—- little mike practicing a POM POM routine for the GOP.

          2. mike January 12, 2017

            LOL!

            You couldn’t refute so back to your insipid remarks.

          3. Dan S January 12, 2017

            WTF are you raving about ? You’ve got multitudes of RW news out there from Fox and Breitbart to Rush Limbaugh and several other alt right commentators. They can no longer call themselves conservatives since they’ve essentially buried what a conservative is. Even Fox can’t be labeled news and their on air personalities like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly are just cheerleaders for the death of real journalism

          4. JPHALL January 12, 2017

            DID YOU EVEN BOTHER TO READ THE CNN REPORT? FROM YOUR COMMENT IT IS OBVIOUS THAT YOU DIDN’T. Now Buzzfeed is different. You always post your opinions as fact yet never can prove what you say. So sad!

          5. mike January 12, 2017

            There’re the SAME story with the salacious part left out by CNN.

          6. JPHALL January 12, 2017

            Once again you prove your incompetence. If I give you a ham sandwich without the ham, is it still a ham sandwich? Pathetic!

          7. mike January 13, 2017

            No, the incompetence is all yours.
            Here’s what CNN Money said.
            But while CNN and other outlets did not publish specific details from the memos because they could not be independently verified, BuzzFeed published the memos in full. (After BuzzFeed’s publication of the memos, The New York Times added some of the allegations contained in them to its article on the subject.)
            http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/10/media/buzzfeed-trump-report/index.html

          8. JPHALL January 13, 2017

            Again you prove your incompetence. If CNN did not mentioned the salacious nature of the accusations why do you compare them as the same as with Buzzfeed who did. (Goldenshowers) This was you original point after all!

          9. mike January 13, 2017

            Salacious out but no proof of other accusations.
            What’s so hard to understand.

          10. JPHALL January 13, 2017

            WHY DO YOU EQUATE THEM (Buzzfeed and CNN) AS THE SAME WHEN EVEN YOU POINT OUT THE MAJOR DIFFERENCES? THAT IS WHAT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.

      2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 12, 2017

        Two nut cases searching for a purpose and meaning in life, Godzilla and “mike” with a little “m”, in harmony with each other—isn’t that sweet. The two of them together would be a Kodak moment.

      3. Dan S January 12, 2017

        Um no he didn’t. He spent more time avoiding answering questions making false claims that CNN was fake news. In his feeble mind its fake because they don’t report nice things about him. Pretty soon everyone except faux news like Breitbart and Fox will be allowed to ask him questions. In a word this is called Communism and your continued support for Trump then seems to imply you hate democracy with a free press

        1. mike January 12, 2017

          Um yes he did.
          CNN perpetuated Fake News!
          That Trump Derangement Syndrome has you too by the balls.
          Not surprised with your feeble and closed mind you missed the answers.

          1. Dan S January 12, 2017

            You can believe what you want since your adamantly convinced and everyone else is wrong. You can’t cite even one example where CNN intentionally placed a so called fake news story. FYI it’s only fake if you want to ignore the facts but understand this, Trump is a con man and much worse. He’s Americas nightmare having a Russian stooge in the WhiteHouse and by discrediting reputable news organizations you’re helping push us further and further into totalitarianism

          2. mike January 12, 2017

            You think it’s a real story the rest of the world doesn’t. Unsubstantiated, not verified but you wish it true.
            Any legitimate news channel would demand verification by multiple sources to run a story. It was a hit piece.
            The rest of your post diarrhea of the brain.

          3. Dan S January 13, 2017

            Your such a classy guy Mike I just don’t know what to say. It appears you love a man who likes golden showers and accuses the media of lying. He’s going to drag America down with him but I choose not to follow. Speaking of which as I suspect your a Russian loving troll I must now block you. Btw I know your not really Mike but Mikhael.

          4. mike January 13, 2017

            More of your delusional rantings.
            T-7 days and counting.

    2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 12, 2017

      Whistling Dixie and wishing you were back on the plantation sipping mint julep isn’t convincing. Your rants are lame, pathetic, laughable, and deplorable. But do continue.

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 12, 2017

    Trump and his stalwart ninnies are out of their collective cotton-picking minds to think that they can pull off a Stalinist/Nazi campaign against the news media. No need to use gangster tactics with FOX or other Right Wing affiliates though, since they’re clueless as to what the time of day is, and are OK with strong-arming and issuing threats.

    Reply
  3. Dan S January 12, 2017

    So his scant supporters are emboldened by stealing the election from Hillary Clinton ? Here’s a real newsflash not fake that Trumps approval rating has dropped to 37 percent 1 week before his fake Inauguration. That’s right I can call it fake if I don’t like the story. That’s one of the lowest approval ratings of an incoming President. Compare that to President Obamas 57 percent one of the highest ratings of an outgoing 2 term President. People need to call out loudly the BS Trump whines about and start demanding he release his taxes every chance they get. President Obama stepped up over bogus claims of being born in Kenya now Trump needs to step up or at the very least just STFU ????

    Reply

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