MEDIA MEMO NO. 3: For the media and President Trump

February 22, 2017

Having heard some of President Donald J. Trump’s news conference on February 16, and having seen and read dozens of media stories about the first month of President Trump’s presidency, here five words of advice for both parties.

Stop fighting. Get along. Collaborate.

First – to the managers, directors, editors, publishers and reporters who comprise the media in 2017: To turn one of Brooke Gladstone’s phases a bit, you have the government you deserve. Public opinion survey after survey shows that distrust of the media, and a belief that the media is biased, are both at all-time highs. President Trump’s election came about, in part, as a result of that distrust. So if you’re unhappy about the outcome, you’ll find one leading cause for it just by looking at a mirror.

A lot of media analysts have stated this as well, as have countless editors and reporters working within the profession. One is Derek Thomspon, senior editor of The Atlantic and author of Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. Below is a link to his article citing four main reasons for the distrust. There are more reasons, but this is a strong starting point.

Billy Graham has been on the Gallup Polls as one of the “Ten most admired men in the world” for the past 60 years. His son, Franklin Graham, has a blunt assessment that concurs with President Trump: The media is lying. When the occupant of the White House and major religious leaders agree on an issue as important as this, the owners and managers of newspapers, television news-gathering divisions, and news-based websites had better take notice and change their ways.

Let’s also admit the obvious:  All too often, today’s media has become the pawn (willing or unwitting) of special interests. The WikiLeaks revelations from John Podesta’s emails included the existence of a lengthy list of media members who were “friendly” to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign. It also revealed details about a huge party which dozens of media on her “friendly” list attended, around the time Clinton announced her candidacy for President in Spring 2015. Gallup and other polls show that the public believes the media supports the Democratic Party, by a margin of 3.5 to 1.

 

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A screen shot of Fox News’ coverage of President Trump’s speech on August 16, 2016

One way the media could begin to redeem itself is to change its direction and focus. Don’t be overly concerned about the White House, but instead look at the plight of the average Jane and Jose in our land. It’s quite telling that Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times, admits that her newspaper made a mistake by not thoroughly covering the Flint, Michigan, water contamination crisis.

Part of what made journalism great in the last quarter of the 20th century was its ability to focus on what Ed Murrow and Fred Friendly (creators of “See it Now,” the first in-depth television news program) called the little picture. This concept of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable,” as stated in a column in the Chicago Evening Post 125 years ago, is something still taught in journalism colleges and universities across the country.

It’s time to refocus. How many more Flints are out there in the nation? If the media returned to a vital role of being a champion of the little people, its reputation would improve.

Now, let’s look at what’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in the Executive Office Building, and elsewhere in the Trump Administration, with respect to the media and the practice of journalism.

Mr. President: You gave a prescient speech about six months ago on the campaign trail. On August 16, in Wisconsin, you said this:

Every day you pick up a newspaper, or turn on the nightly news, and you hear about some self-interest banker or some discredited Washington insider says they oppose our campaign. Or some encrusted old politician says they oppose our campaign. Or some big time lobbyist says they oppose our campaign.

“I wear their opposition as a badge of honor. Because it means I am fighting for REAL change, not just partisan change. I am fighting – all of us across the country are fighting – for peaceful regime change in our own country. The media-donor-political complex that’s bled this country dry has to be replaced with a new government of, by and for the people.
(Emphasis added.)

You not only won the election, you defeated the very complex which you eloquently identified on the campaign trail. Now you face a new challenge – Working with at least a portion of the enemies you conquered. Some of them are political. Some are donors. And some are members of the media.

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The editorial page “spoof” describing the beginning of (what it hoped would be a fictional) Trump Presidency. This was published as a mock front page in The Boston Globe in April 2016.

Whether or not the media deserves it (in my humble opinion, most don’t), as a statesman and the leader of the world’s greatest democracy, you need the media to report, accurately and fairly, upon your administration and its accomplishments. If democracy is to grow and thrive around the world, then the U.S. media is in a unique position — has a unique responsibility — to broadcast truth and light in places where all too often there are only messages of hate and doom.

They don’t get it. They don’t understand that your usage of Twitter belongs in the same category at John Kennedy’s employment of live TV news conferences or FDR’s radio fireside chats. You are utilizing a newer medium to communicate directly to improve the lives of the people – the oppressed, the downtrodden, and those who seemingly have had no voice and no way to improve their own lives.

Because they don’t get it, you need to exhibit both exceptional leadership and exceptional restraint in showing them a path towards some degree of collaboration and respect for each other.

Here’s a suggestion – Try some one-on-ones. Invite new NBC News President executive Noah Oppenheim to the White House. Have dinner with the New York Times’ Dean Baquet.  Do a two-for and have both Marty Baron (executive editor) and Jeff Bezos (owner) of The Washington Post over for a conversation.

Let them realize that you understand the business challenges and pressures they face. Give them an opportunity to have an exclusive and see if they are willing to work with you or continuously write or broadcast story after story which attacks you.

You have proven that you don’t need the media to campaign and win an election. However, governing is easier if the public isn’t divided and walled off into dozens of “echo chambers” where everyone is seeing and hearing nothing but their own point of view.

Something beyond winning or losing an election is at stake here. E Pluribus Unum should be more than just a motto.  Extend an olive branch from your position as the victor. Media leaders would be wise to accept that offer. Then, just maybe, we can obtain some equilibrium in a land that’s becoming increasingly less civil and more hostile.

Our first president could have been a king, but he wanted a democratic republic to govern the land. George Washington said, “While a courteous behavior is due to all, select the most deserving only for your friendships.”

Try imitating President Washington’s advice, at least for a while, with respect to the media, President Trump. Give them some courtesy, and offer an opportunity for them to change course. It’s in everyone’s best interests – including the nation — that this happens.

shamina merchant john kerezy

John Kerezy with Ohio State University student Shamina Merchant at a presentation at Cuyahoga Community College in spring 2015

I am an associate professor of journalism/mass communications at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). These views are my own, and not those of Tri-C.

SOURCES:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/09/why-do-americans-distrust-the-media/500252/

http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/rev-graham-trump-says-what-we-all-know-news-media-has-been-lying-fake-news

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/08/17/donald-trump-speech-with-transcript-the-decisive-moment/

http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/the-rules-of-civility-and-decent-behaviour/

Hanson, Ralph, “Mass Communication,” Sage Publications, sixth edition, pages 127-128

https://ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org/2016/11/28/fake-news-trumps-true-news/#more-2748

ALSO VISIT:

https://jkerezy.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/media-memo/

https://jkerezy.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/media-memo-2/

 

 

 

 


Thanks to a terrific broadcaster and friend

February 14, 2017

One of the NBA’s greatest voices is CHRIS DENARI. Chris is the television play-by-play broadcaster for the Indiana Pacers. He’s also among an elite group of professionals and game ambassadors involved in the NBA’s global outreach, as he and partner (Indiana University basketball legend Quinn Buckner) traveled to Africa in 2015 as part of the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program.

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Chris Denari, right, with Quinn Buckner

Chris is the voice of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, and also has past stops at Butler University and Indianapolis television stations in his career. In Indiana, followers of the Indy 500 know Chris Denari’s voice and broadcasts from his perch at Turn Four of the Indianapolis 500 at the Motor Speedway.  He’s a member of the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.

Chris and I first crossed paths back in 1979. Brad Boyd and I were running the Student News Bureau at Wabash College.  Chris was an incoming freshman, trying out for the Wabash basketball team, and desirous of trying his hand at broadcasting.

It didn’t take long at all for Chris to make his mark. He also took over as the host of “The Stan Parrish Show” a weekly cable television program which began with Chris doing a “Q and A” session with Wabash football coach Stan Parrish. Parrish went on to coach both with leading NCAA Division I programs and also in the NFL. You might know a guy he tutored at the University of Michigan named Tom Brady. But I digress …

Chris was phenomenal as a student broadcaster. He studied the opposing team’s players, and was usually better informed about BOTH teams than other college broadcasters would be about their own squad. He parlayed his interest and transformed his student experience into an internship, and then a full-time job, with an Indianapolis television station upon graduation from Wabash in 1983. He also earned a NCAA champion ring as part of the college’s 1981-1982 Division III national championship baskettball squad. He’s still participates in game-day shoot arounds sometimes.

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Chris in 1982 at Wabash College

Today, as I type this, Chris is on the Indiana Pacers’ team jet heading from Indianapolis to Cleveland. Tomorrow he’ll be at Media Row at the Quicken Loans Arena,  broadcasting the Pacers vs. Cavs game.  But before that, Chris is giving some of his own time and talent to about 10 students from Cuyahoga Community College.

He has agreed to meet with these students, and share a little bit about his career path and what his job is like with the Pacers.  My Tri-C students are also benefitting from the kindness of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are letting them visit Quicken Loans Arena and see the areas in which the media work before, during and after NBA Contests.  (Here’s a quick shout-out and thanks to you Alyssa, for helping to set this up for Cuyahoga Community College.)

THANK YOU so much Chris. Among your many accomplishments, you’re also a terrific mentor as well as Some Little Giant.

NOTE TO MY STUDENTS: Be sure to arrive around 3:45 p.m. at the gray door on the SOUTH end of Quicken Loans Arena (nearest to Progressive Field). As long as you exit by 5:15 p.m. you can park your vehicle at the Tri-C District Office parking garage. (The garage opens for game customers later, with proceeds funding Tri-C scholarship programs.)

NOTE TO MY WABASH FAMILY:  Thank you!  I continue to be amazed at the response to “Glory Reborn:  Wabash College and its Athletic Teams, 1977-1982.” There is a pretty positive “buzz” about the book on social media, especially among the 55-60ish crowd of Wabash alumni.  Here’s a link to a story from the college’s website about the book, which includes connections to both a podcast about the book as well as an order form if you want to obtain a copy.  http://sports.wabash.edu/news/2017/1/23/basketball-wabash-celebrates-national-champs-new-book.aspx

Happy Valentine’s Day to all.