As in my previous article, I mentioned the importance of media in a Democratic state. The United States prides itself culturally on being the land of the free, thus including the importance of free speech and freedom of the press. Media then has a right to openly state opinions or critiques of anything happening in day to day life, including the actions of the state. Many US political outlets regardless of their intended demographic (left or right, more economically focused or social justice, daily news or satirically themed) will emphasis the importance to freely state opinions of a head of state, like the President for example.
The conflicting issue then become the quality of the content created vs the traffic generated by the content. An ongoing issue during the 2016 US election was the constant coverage of Donald Trump. His path to becoming the Republican candidate was interesting, I will admit that. But the almost around the clock coverage some argued aided in his ultimate success in the election.
This issue with the coverage of content was the sensationalism around Trump. He’s a reality TV star. He was the co-owner of the Miss Universe pageant. He has no prior political experience. His shift into politics was interesting to follow. But it was the amount of coverage that was an issue, the type of coverage.
Instead of analyzing the platforms critically and his stances, the ratings driven by Trump’s persona led to many outlets talking about surface issues ALOT. And leaving minimum coverage of other candidates. The New York Times deemed about 2 Billion dollars in earned media on Trump occurred by this time last year because of the constant coverage. The two fed off of each other. The media got content from Trump, and Trump got his messages seen in front of millions an minimal cost.
And Trump won. What now?
Some have stated the media has made an effort to be more critical in their coverage. But the issue can be argued that it’s not good enough.
John Oliver of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, had an episode after the election that had gone into reviewing the media’s impact on the election. He points out the lack of trust in media and the lack of reviewing information presented to audiences is an issue. He also states it’s the outlets responsibility to ensure that not only the audience is informed fully but by true information.
So months later, we have begun to see more critical journalism towards Trump. Many outlets again have reviewed tactics and have made efforts on the quality of information created for audiences. During Trump’s recent press conference, it can be seen journalist openly correcting Trump wrong information and asking more questions holding him accountable to his actions. THIS IS GOOD.
The problem now is how Trump has responded. Trump and the Media worked hand-in-hand. Now that relationship is more complicated. In response, Trump had banned 7 outlets from a press briefing. Many of his tweets and actions have Trump villianizing the Media on their negative coverage of him. Why is this an issue, because as I previously stated, Media is key in accountability. Banning outlets that don’t agree with your tactics leads a dangerous path in terms of they type of leadership Trump will over the US.
But does this serve the Media right for cherishing him for too long? Jon Stewart thinks it gives them time to re-focus their efforts.
Media is important in a democracy, and ending a pseudo-obsession with Trump might be a good start.