Implicit Bias of Latino youth in the media

By Jocelyn Martinez-Rosales

In recent weeks, the Chicago Police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo has ignited demonstrations and a city-wide outcry for police accountability. Mainstream news reports as well as hyper-local media have followed the story closely. Simultaneously, opinion pieces have also sprouted causing controversy and push-back.

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, was one of the first to write his opinions about the incident, “it’s not too early to stop romanticizing and infantilizing 13-year-olds,” Zorn writes in a column published before police body cam footage was released.

Zorn received heat from Chicago journalists and activists via Twitter. Many questioned if he would have written the opinion piece the same way had Toledo been White. It was only when Zorn was under fire that he deleted his tweet history including tweets about his column and opinion.

In a video produced by the New York Times, implicit bias is explored with an analogy. The video titled Peanut Butter, Jelly and Racism breaks it down, “we’ve all grown up in a culture with media images, news images, conversations we’ve heard at home, our education. Think about a fog we’ve been breathing our whole life, we never even realized it, what we were taking in. That fog causes associations that lead to biases.”

For Toledo, it wasn’t long for the reports to come out of his association with gangs in Little Village and of course, questions about why a preteen was out at two in the morning accompanied by a 21-year-old and a firearm. While as journalists, it’s important to report details, how we frame those details makes a difference.

One Sun Times’ headline reads, “Gang members ‘instructed’ to shoot at police vehicles after Adam Toledo shooting, cops warned.”

If you’re reading that headline, now you’re making associations between gang activity and Toledo. Why is a Latino gang threatening to shoot at police vehicles? Is Toledo a Latin King? These questions and now connections between gang activity and a 13-year-old are made.

Little Village is a predominantly Mexican neighborhood in the west side of Chicago. It’s the neighborhood where soon-to-be 15-year-old girls go to buy their quinceanera dress, where you can find some of the best taco joints and the only place where you can find obscure Mexican cheeses in the city. But if you type in Little Village into a Google search engine, the top stories are shootings, death and violence.

The reality is that Little Village is an underprivileged neighborhood with a median household income of $33,989. For the week of March 22 to March 28 of 2021, the Chicago Police Department District 10 located in the Little Village neighborhood reports five shooting incidents and 40 so far this year.

If the only time a neighborhood makes news headlines is for its crime rate, what does that do to our implicit bias? Columnists who have preconceived notions about brown youth and areas in the city like Little Village begin to not see our youth as youth.

In a 2019 study conducted by Pew Research, it revealed Hispanic Americans were 26 percent more likely than Black and White adults to think their personal interests were misunderstood by the news media. Additionally, predominantly Latino neighborhoods felt less of a connection to local journalists and news organizations.

Implicit bias is inevitable but if we begin to recognize and understand why we have certain associations with races, cultures, economic status etc. then as journalists we can begin to report from different lenses.

In an op-ed by Mateo Zapata published also by the Chicago Tribune, Zapata writes, “we need solutions that begin with telling our own stories so that we can take back control of our narratives and defend the humanity of Adam and all the other kids like him.”

As members of the world of journalism, demanding accountability from peers and news organizations is vital to stop narratives that perpetrate implicit bias and continue a false narrative of Latino youth.

 

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Mental health is getting more attention in the news industry – but are self-care breaks feasible when news orgs are cutting staff left and right?

By Marcus Robertson

As humanity races toward a future with increasingly dire possibilities, journalists have a duty to ensure the public understands every facet of the most pressing issues we face.

To do otherwise is to violate the Society of Professional Journalists’ core principle, “Minimize Harm.” After all, today’s media landscape is fraught with lies, like the ongoing “stolen election” claim initiated by then-Pres. Donald Trump. If we don’t fight it, we are allowing minds to be poisoned.

But how do we find a balance when covering the relentless onslaught of doom, gloom, and tragedy? That kind of constant exposure can wreak havoc on anyone’s psychological wellbeing – but covering it is our responsibility. Are we meant to also minimize harm to ourselves?

“The data tells us that journalists are exposed to traumatic events at a higher rate than many soldiers,” clinical psychologist and trauma specialist Dr. Kevin Becker told the Poynter Institute. “As such, they are at increased risk for the mental health impacts related to the losses and tragedies associated with Covid-19.”

How often must we brush aside feelings of burnout and push on in the name of the greater good?

Within the last year, I’ve started to take my own mental health seriously. I sought out a therapist through the Jesse Brown V.A. Health Center, where I receive largely free healthcare as a veteran. I’ve diligently taken my new anti-depression medication every day, and I’ve kept all my therapy appointments.

It’s helped, but it hasn’t immunized me against the torrent of trauma I’m tasked to keep up with. Maybe reporters should periodically take a break. At the same time, that idea sounds so foreign and incongruent with success in journalism.

If all of my peers are working their asses off constantly, why do I deserve a break?

There’s a view among some in the industry of journalism as a kind of intellectual holy war against lies and injustice. If that’s the model we’re called to emulate, then perhaps we’re meant to embody what Iraq War veteran Kevin Bakker said to mewhen describing his love for those he fought for.

“If I have to choose between my life and yours, fuck you. Go live,” Bakker said. “I’m out.”

Under this view, burnout from constant trauma exposure is just a tragic fact of life on the information battlefield. I might take a bullet or two, but if I can still stand, I had better press on and keep fighting the good fight.

But perhaps it’s better to instead treat mental health and self-care like oxygen masks in an airplane – you can do more to help others if you first take the time to help yourself. I can serve the public much longer if I take the time to care for myself and come back fresh, right? After I graduate and land that job I’ve dreamt of, will I even be allowed to take breaks like that? Should I be allowed to?

I suspect no one can give a definite answer, because as the cliché goes, these are unprecedented times. There’s no roadmap for where we’re going.

Should I put my oxygen mask on before I help everyone else? I wish I could answer that.

All I know is that it’s getting hard to breathe.

 

 

The Need for a Town Square

By Rebecca Meluch

Growing up I thought I needed to be a doctor. When I first came to DePaul, I enrolled as a biology major, pre-medicine student. I idly walked to science classes, studied for exams, and went to lab. But after an entire year, I realized writing lab reports was the only thing I enjoyed in my major. I had a knack for explaining what I observed and documenting it for others to understand. I realized I could maybe make a career out of that. The summer before my sophomore year I changed my major to journalism.

It was quite a large leap going from pre-med to journalism, but when I wrote my first story that was published, I knew that I made the right choice.

I only wish that I knew sooner.

Students enrolled in DePaul’s journalism program, many –– not all –– came to college knowing they wanted to major in journalism. They either wrote for their high schools’ publications, took journalism classes as juniors and seniors, or grew up reading their local newspapers. They had knowledge and background in the field, and maybe some local journalists they already respected. I did not.

I grew up in a small city called Olmsted Falls, on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. When I was in high school and prepared to digest the news, we didn’t have any dependable local journalism outlets. My school didn’t offer any journalism classes, and our school paper was wildly ignored. It’s only now as a college senior that I learned my high school had a paper in the first place.

Cleveland was once prized with The Plain Dealer –– it’s version of The Chicago Tribune. I remember as a child seeing my mom and dad hand pages back and forth to each other, my mom mostly for the coupons, my dad for the sports. I remember passing The Plain Dealer’sgigantic office building on Tiedeman Road whenever my family hopped on the turnpike to take a trip downtown.

Looking from it on the outside, I would have never been able to see how as every year passed, fewer and fewer bodies, journalists and editors took up that gigantic space.

In the early 2000’s The Plain Dealer employed over 350 writers and editors. By 2020, the 179-year-old newspaper employed zero.

The rise of the internet, advertising costs, union busting, lack of readership and distrust in the news –– all ultimately led to The Plain Dealer’s decline.

As The Plain Dealer first began to tear away in ashes, Cleveland.com rose. It’s a mediocre at best, online only, lesser quality, non-unionized news site that barely covers Cleveland’s small towns and lacks the coverage on beats The Dealer once had.

My hometown of Olmsted Falls lost the coverage The Dealer once gave, we lost what my parents used to call our very own town square. People lost interest in reading the news, and I had no physical example of what journalism was –– only that I stopped seeing a Plain Dealer at the end of my driveway on Sunday mornings.

What happened to The Plain Dealer happened all over the country. Local news outlets were being bought out and gutted by corporate hedge funds, papers had to lay off their staff, drop hundreds of beats and abandon coverage in areas that relied on it.

Margaret Sullivan is the media columnist for The Washington Post. But before she was at The Post, she was the top editor at The Buffalo News for 13 years –– another local journalism outlet that had to make massive layoffs and saw its readership and coverage decline.

In her book, “Ghosting the News” Sullivan wrote about the local news crisis –– and the dissipation of local outlets.

She discovered that since 2004, more than 2,000 American newspapers have closed their doors. From 2004-2015 the U.S. newspaper industry lost over 1,800 print outlets as a result of closures and mergers.

In the news industry, there are the haves and have nots. There are nationally read papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times which substantially have been able to maintain readership and print a physical paper.

And then there are the local outlets –– the outlets that are equipped with people who want to cover small towns and everyday people but aren’t given the money and resources to –– who are left with the decision to merge, adapt, or die.

Local news is vital for small communities to remain connected –– not only with what is happening in their city, but who is living there.

Fans from all over the state of Ohio decreased at my school’s football games –– because there was no one there to cover our team or our top marching band program on a regular basis. People were shocked to hear we had a student who received a near full ride to Harvard, because there wasn’t a reporter who covered local high school scholarship recipients anymore.

Residents played guessing games with one another because they didn’t know what brand-new business was being built in front of the police station.

Without a local news outlet, people became uninformed and distant with one another.

Devoid of a town square that keeps one in touch with the world and its possibilities, people might go on unaware of what is even out there for them to do or see. The loss of local journalism led people astray, people like me who spent an entire year studying to be a doctor, when I could have known earlier, I wanted to be a writer.

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501(c)3 Status: Coming to A Local Newspaper Near You

By Becky Budds

Nearly 1,800 local newspapers have disappeared since 2004, according to a 2018 study by UNC Chapel Hill. But even newsrooms lucky enough to stay afloat have lost the ability to comprehensively cover their community due to layoffs and budget cuts. Now as my hometown newspaper The Chicago Tribune prepares to be bought out by Alden Global Capital, I’m left wondering about the future of local journalism.

But I’ve realized the answer to saving newsrooms across the country comes in the form of a tax status. 501(c)3 status, to be exact.

We know nonprofits to be primarily charities or universities, but what about newspapers? As advertisers pull out from traditional media and readers turn to their phones to keep up with the news, the for-profit model of newspapers has become outdated. Switching to a nonprofit model is the breath of life the industry needs.

Nonprofit organizations don’t have to pay taxes on their income, but their activities must serve the public interest rather than the interest of owners or shareholders and they can’t “participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates,” according to the IRS. What kind of organization serves public interest and stays out of politics better than a news organization? To me, it’s a no-brainer.

Nonprofits must also have a board of directors to oversee operations. However, the board doesn’t interfere with the reporting or what’s being reported on. For example, my local nonprofit station, Naperville Community Television (NCTV), has a board of directors consisting of community members who are passionate about the mission and want to donate their time.

In an era of newspaper chains being owned by hedge funds that have strip-mined local outlets, it’s refreshing for newsrooms to focus on community members instead of greedy CEOs. It’s refreshing for newsrooms to focus on investigating and telling the truth instead of the bottom line.

Nonprofit newsrooms still have to make enough money to pay people and keep the lights on, but it’s much easier to raise donations and grant money than to convince people to subscribe.In fact, the latest INN Index of member revenues showed less reliance on foundation grants and more income from recurring donations and memberships.

It gives community members the option to “buy in” to their local news and be able to trust that it’s not influenced by advertisers or shareholders. A reader could click on five articles or a hundred articles— they will never encounter a paywall.

Nonprofit newsrooms are small, but mighty. In 2019 NCTV’s revenue was $1.2 million and in 2020 84% of their operating expenses went towards their mission of “telling local stories on air and online.” From city hall meetings to parades and high school football games, NCTV is there for it all thanks to support from local businesses and Napervillians alike. And because they’re there for it all, the community is more than happy to come out and provide support.

Nonprofit journalism isn’t a new concept. Naperville Community Television has been nonprofit since 2003. Notable publications like National Public Radio (NPR) and ProPublica have been nonprofit for quite some time. And the movement is growing.

In the past few years, two major newspapers — The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Salt Lake Tribune — made the switch to nonprofit. The industry is watching them closely. The Institute for Nonprofit News counts around 250 news outlets in its membership, of which 62 percent focus on local and state reporting, according to the 2020 INN Index.

The Knight Foundation declared 2020 the “Year of Nonprofit Local News,” citing the rapid growth of nonprofit news organizations and a business model “tailored for tough times.” They have also found that “nonprofit outlets have launched at a pace of a dozen or more a year since 2008, with 31 INN members launched in 2018-2019.”

I understand that switching to a nonprofit model isn’t easy, and it doesn’t just happen overnight. Newspapers were designed to be for profit. While many of them don’t churn out hefty profits anymore, they’re still worth millions of dollars.

When the Salt Lake Tribune became nonprofit, it’s owner Paul Huntsman gave up his role as sole owner and publisher. Now, he serves as chairman of the board. Huntsman could’ve made budget cuts or sold the paper to a large hedge fund. Instead, he relinquished his power for the good of the paper.

Without leaders like Huntsman, communities across the country will continue to go without accurate and comprehensive local news.

If your local newspaper is nonprofit, become a donor. Donate your time. Share their articles. Every contribution counts and your community will be better from it. We need good, accurate local journalism now more than ever.

 

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The Balancing Act of Broadcast: A Conversation with Érika Maldonado

By Joanna Talabani

If you’ve seen Érika Maldonado anchor the nightly news on Univision Chicago where she’s been for 16+ years, you’ve grown accustomed to the flawless woman she presents in HD. You might be surprised to learn that beneath the glamour, the broadcaster has struggled with self-image as a result of it. This is why she advises against getting into the industry if you are drawn by the cameras and the adoration. “That might satisfy you for a while,” she cautions.

But after her broadcasts, she describes going home and removing the makeup and feeling like she was wearing a mask. It left her questioning which version was the real her. She understands that’s part of the business, telling me “It’s a two-way street and this is a visual media.”

Érika had an image that was carefully curated by the news director, image consultants, and makeup artists that consisted of hair extensions and fake eyelashes that did not feel like her. But she tells me that when you work for a network, it’s a reciprocal relationship and one can’t just do what they want. “I agreed to that. And when I didn’t like it anymore, I found a way without being rebellious, with working with them, to make them understand that I didn’t feel comfortable wearing that anymore.”

Érika did not get into the business to be fawned at. To her, being a journalist means, “that you are in a life of service. You serve the community, by giving them information and empowering them.” But she cautions that she has learned to not give all of herself away, especially during the pandemic.

She was working 18-hour days and going home and trying to respond to the 200+ messages a day on social media she’d receive from people who reached out to her asking for help or information or just to vent to someone they saw in their living rooms every night. She continues, “So it’s about service, but you have to learn …to draw the line, because it cannot become your life. Because then you are consumed and then you have nothing else to give, because if you’re exhausted, how can you help? And so, like always, you have to take care of yourself first to be able to take care of people. And so that’s very profound. That’s the balance.”

Balance is something that comes up a lot in our conversation. She tells me that is what I should strive for in my pursuit of objectivity as a journalist, while acknowledging my bias. “We are always permeated in the story, whether we like it or not. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing either.”

This is what allows her to connect with people as a journalist. “If you totally remove yourself from it, then there is no human component in it. And it’s way harder to connect to the people that you’re trying to reach.”

She worked hard to get to where she has from her native Venezuela, and she’s seen a lot of colleagues burn out along the way. She has coworkers who show up to the same tragedies she does that consciously detach themselves from what they are reporting on. “They arrive to places and they’re super cool and they just want a sound bite, and they get out and that’s it. And the story doesn’t touch them, but they also don’t touch the story or have an impact in people’s lives. And to me I have always forced myself not to be that way, not to get closed.”

Not being closed has taken a toll on her emotional and physical health, though. “You pay a big price for it,” she tells me. She had a hormonal imbalance due to stress that led to a weight gain where she was viciously attacked on social media by viewers who noticed. She has been on antidepressants for depression and anxiety. She reflects on this period of her life, saying “My life was perfect. I have my dream job in Chicago. I have no real tangible problems. Why am I depressed? And somebody came to me and said, Érika, how many shootings have you covered this week?”

That was a particularly rough week where she had covered over 10. In one of the instances, she was even the one to deliver the tragic news to the family. “And then I realized, Oh my God. But of course, I’m depressed. I’m dealing with death all the time.”  She knew she had to change something if she was going to continue in this career.

“I always now go back to my meditation when something has affected me deeply. I can find back that center and the balance. I found that way late in my career. I would have embraced it in my twenties instead of my fifties, but so be it.” She tells me gracefully, “It arrives at the moment that it’s supposed to arrive.”

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Say ‘Yes,’ Find a Mentor, Become an Expert –– Evan Osnos on a Career in Journalism

By: Francesca Mathewes

From the look of his bylines and literary successes, you wouldn’t guess that Evan Osnos got his journalism start at a small paper in West Virginia called the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram.

At the Exponent-Telegram, he worked as a photographer –– “and not a very good one,” he laughed in a phone interview. Osnos, who now works for the New Yorker, spoke to me from his car, the clicking of his turn signal punctuating each sentence.

“I wanted to go to West Virginia and work for a while I was kind of interested in the tradition of basically documentary photography in the south, which had a lot of a long pedigree,” Osnos said. From there, Osnos landed at the Chicago Tribune in 1999, where he had worked as a metro desk intern during summer break from Harvard University.

Back at the metro desk as a reporting resident, Osnos got to work covering everything under the sun –– from the U.S. Census in 2000 to Chicago’s segregation problem. However, he always had his eye on foreign correspondence.

“I was always trying to think about I could learn, as a metro reporter, skills that would help me eventually when I was able to get overseas,” Osnos said.

Having studied Chinese and living in China during college, Osnos felt he had a leg up when an opening for a China correspondent opened up at the Tribune.

“I put my name in, and I said, ‘I’d like to apply for this job –– I’ve lived over there I speak Chinese,’” Osnos said. “And they were like, ‘who are you? You’ve been here, like, 10 minutes. So no, you cannot have this job.’”

Although initially getting denied, Osnos said that his application gave him the opportunity to explain to the hiring managers who he was, what his background was and essentially, plead his case. This caught their attention and taught him his first valuable lesson in journalism.

“Apply for things, even if you think you’re not the perfect candidate yet,” Osnos said. “It assigns to [managers] that you want to be that candidate, and that you are hoping to get there and that you recognize that there is something beyond what you’re doing at the moment.”

Following his yearlong residency, Osnos was sent to New York City to work for the Tribune as their New York correspondent, which was followed almost immediately by the attacks of September 11, 2001. After 9/11 and the U.S.’s declaration of war on terror, Osnos was first in line to be sent off to report from Baghdad for the Tribune, which he attributes to his expression of interest in becoming the China correspondent.

Once in Baghdad, Osnos quickly began learning a new set of lessons.

“One of the key lessons I learned was, trust your instincts, in some respects. It was pretty clear, pretty quickly, if you were up close and, on the ground, that things were going very, very badly,” he said. “There was this widening gap between the puffery and nonsense that the official spokespeople were putting out when they talked about the progress of the war and what you were finding when you stepped outside of the official confines and went around the country and went around Baghdad and hung out with Iraqis.”

This, Osnos said, was an unpopular observation, and attempts to write about the war in this way were met with scrutiny from those in the George W. Bush administration who supported the war.

Although Osnos didn’t speak fluent Arabic and had not ever been to the Middle East before, he said that another lesson in journalism kept him afloat during his years as a war correspondent.

“Attach yourself like a barnacle, to older, more experienced reporters, and listen to and study and see how they do things,” Osnos said. “[Journalism] is such a strange business, we don’t really have a textbook, we don’t really have a completely fixed science, there’s so much about this job, which is just intuition and improvisation, and a little bit of armchair psychology and a bit of private investigation. So, the only way you can really learn it well is by studying people who are really good at it.”

In 2005, he an leveraged an offer from the Washington Post to continue in Baghdad into his dream job as the Tribune’s China correspondent. From there, he used his unique positionality and expertise on China and Chinese politics to seize an opportunity to write for The New Yorker after learning that their reporter in China was on their way out.

“[U.S Ambassador to the United Nations] Samantha Power has a good line about this,” Osnos said. “The best way to be a young professional, in whatever business, but particularly in journalism, is learn to do one area of specialty really, really well, and really pour yourself into learning everything you can about that one thing.

And then also be willing to do whatever else it is that the institution asks you to do,” he continued. “That’s like a great combination.”

Osnos, now wrapping up a book tour for Joe Biden: The Life, The Run and What Matters Now, is set to publish his third nonfiction book this fall and remains a staff writer for The New Yorker –––– mostly stateside, these days. When he looks back on his life and career, two things resonate with him the most: first, foremost and unabashedly, are his kids.

“Until you have them, you don’t really recognize how much they are also a product of the whole series of choices you made along the way,” he said. And second, is the immense privilege of it all.

“Honestly, I feel outrageously grateful to have the chance to do this job. It is a tremendous privilege and fun and nourishing and hard –– but hard in the best sense,” he said. “I’ve been really lucky to be able to go around and meet people at various places in the world who are going through really dramatic, sometimes very painful, sometimes really exhilarating moments. To be able to try to make an official memory of that… feels worthwhile.

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Understanding the three buckets: a conversation with Cynthia Tucker

By Emma Oxnevad

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker wants to set the record straight on commentary. While journalism has traditionally been distinguished by the “three buckets”— reporting, analysis, and opinion writing— she worries that the lines between the three are beginning to blur.

Tucker said that the rise of digital journalism has muddied the waters between fact-based reporting and commentary, which relies on a writer’s ability to convey an argument.

“In the heyday of print, it was easy to see the distinctions visually. because the opinion section of the newspaper was clearly labeled,” she said. “…But now that we have moved to the digital age, even with the labeling, it’s really harder to see. Literally, it is harder to tell what you are reading, so those who are not already schooled in the distinctions might be easily confused.”

She also attributes this lack of understanding to the mislabeling of cable news programs, which often impart subjective opinions, as objective reporting.

“MSNBC, CNN has a lot more commentary than it used to,” she said. “And Fox labels itself as, what, ‘fair and balanced?’ But it is, of course, unfair and unbalanced. And it’s not news.”

Tucker highlighted Fox—which is well known for its conservative programming— as being particularly harmful, describing the level of influence it can have on otherwise uninformed viewers.

“If you grew up watching Fox News if you’re 20 years old and you come from a conservative household, or you believe that is the news, you have no idea of what straight news sounds like,” she said.

Tucker said that this lack of media literacy concerning the proverbial three buckets was brought to her attention, in part, by her work as the Journalist-in-Residence at the University of South Alabama.

Tucker often assigns her students to acquire a digital news subscription and select a reported news piece to discuss in class; she said that oftentimes, her students will select a column rather than the assigned “straight news” format.

“My first year teaching at the University of South Alabama I didn’t even understand that my students didn’t know the distinction,” she said. “I didn’t understand that I needed to go back and teach them what an opinion piece was. So now I spend a lot more time on that.”

In an attempt to combat this lack of media literacy, Tucker said she repeatedly emphasizes the importance of consuming a variety of publications to her students.

“I tell them over and over again, listen to NPR, read the New York Times, the front page of the New York Times, the Washington Post,” she said. “Listen to the evening news on the big three legacy networks ABC NBC [and] CBS. I emphasize that over and over.”

When discussing the future of commentary, Tucker stated that she believes the practice is going “back to the future,” in reference to news being used as a partisan vehicle, as they were in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

“If you look at what is happening today. You see more and more news entities that are full of commentary dedicated to a particular point of view, even those I respect,” she said. “…So, I think we’re headed back to a time when commentary, or at least reporting, that supports a particular ideology will be most of what we get. I regret that. Because I’m not sure that’s what we need.”

 

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Trump’s Press Revolution

A Conversation with Gerald Seib

by Justin Myers

Under Donald Trump, the presidential press room became a lions’ den branding journalists the “enemy of the people” and labeling sound reporting as “fake news.” With President Joe Biden now in office, these relations have begun to improve significantly, but his anti-media stance lingers in the rhetoric of those who still support him, still haunting political reporters.

Trump’s anti-press rhetoric, as with many aspects of his presidency, broke Republican party norms. The GOP, with its never-ending wariness towards institutions of all types, has always been skeptical towards journalistic media. That wasn’t new with Trump. What was new, however, were the heights to which the former reality television show host took that skepticism to.

Gerald Seib, executive Washington editor for The Wall Street Journal, in his new book “We Should Have Seen It Coming: From Reagan to Trump — A Front-Row Seat to a Political Revolution” follows how the business mogul-turned-president crafted a radically new system of party values that were an extreme departure from his Republican predecessors.

“People wonder two things: how did we get to the point where Donald Trump was the Republican president and the leader of the conservative movement when he was so unlike Reagan?” Seib said. “And then, secondly, they want to know, ‘Where does this go from here?’”

How did we get to this point?

Having grown up in a largely red-blooded community on the northernmost border of Springfield, Illinois, I lived in close vicinity to many of the political movements in Seib’s book leading up to and following Trump’s election. Despite this background, I have always been consistently taken aback by the degrees to which Republicans grew such vitriol against the press under Trump — a plague that affected many people I grew up around.

“It was an obvious political tactic to try to generate enthusiasm at the [party] base because, if you can attack the ‘liberal’ press, people will rally to that,” Seib said. “I think a lot of the attacks on the press that you saw from Donald Trump were calculated to appeal to base voters, not a reflection of genuine sentiment.”

In his book Seib describes how the former president utilized the same advertising tactics he gained through his reality T.V. experience to build up a personal brand, appeal to swathes of Republican reporters and protect his own self from scrutiny.

“The reason those … intimidation tactics are there is an attempt to stop the watchdog role that reporters and journalists play,” Seib said.

The Washington Post reported that Trump made 30,573 inaccurate or misleading claims over the course of his presidency, leading to plenty of reason for why he would want to attack the watchdog reporters. To accomplish this, Trump stood at rally lecterns and sat at the Resolute Desk, calling out reporters and news organizations by name, and built around him a new movement which hurled constant vitriol against those news outlets not branded with the Oval Office’s seal of approval.

“You get attacked by Trump supporters no matter what you write,” Seib said. “You have to have a thick skin.”

So, to ask the second question behind Seib’s book, where do we go from here?

As a DePaul journalism student who has spent most of my college days plagued by constant headlines of so-and-so from such-and-such newsroom getting kicked out of a White House press briefing, I’ve been asking myself this question a lot.

“What Donald Trump did was [that he] chose to fight every day with the media that covered him,” Seib said. “It was a relationship very much filled with animosity, and dangerous in some ways.”

Seib recounted stories of reporters forced to hire security guards to watch their homes around the clock due to threats they received at Trump rallies.

“There’s nothing like that in the relationship between Biden and the press or, really, most politicians and the press,” Seib said. “What you’re seeing in coverage of the Biden administration is a return to kind of more traditional … give and take between the White House and the press that covers it.”

If there’s any consolation to journalism students such as myself about to break free from the safety net of academia into a real-life newsroom battered by Trump’s press abrasion, it’s that Seib, who has interviewed every president since Reagan, sees Trump as an outlier.

“What you’ve seen in the last four years is not normal,” Seib said. “It doesn’t define the relationship between journalists and the people they cover or between journalists and the people they write for or broadcast for. It’s not a healthy situation … [but] it’ll change, and I think it will evolve back towards something more normal.”

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Sally Ramirez is on her show’s beck and call 24/7

By Damita Menezes

In a low ceiling room with three TV screens behind her, a couple more in front of her, and 3 pairs of eyes and ears each, Sally Ramirez proudly lives the demanding life of an executive cable news producer.

With 20 minutes of a full conversation and 25 minutes of zoom silence created by interrupting phone calls from her writers, reporters, producers and anchor Shepard Smith, I was witness to her work ethic and passion.

“Once you are committed to being a journalist, you’re a journalist 24/7,” said Ramirez when asked to explain her work routine. “You’re constantly consuming information, reading everything you can, making sure you have the latest information and the latest facts.”

Ramirez is a seasoned producer with more than 30 years of experience in TV news. Her passion for being behind the scenes and love of crafting and storytelling equip Ramirez to produce CNBC’s nightly newscast with excellence.

“I love taking the audience on an experience of storytelling through your show, through your story selection, through your production elements,” said Ramirez. “And hopefully people walk away feeling like they’ve learned something, they’re inspired by something, and it’s memorable.”

The News with Shepard Smith aims to provide a deep, non-partisan coverage and perspective on the day’s most important stories and everyday starts with a clean slate for Ramirez. With everyday beginning with a series of questions, Ramirez relies on the audience, social media metrics and her good ole gut feeling.

“Every day is different, but you have to know your audience,” said Ramirez. “You’re not producing a show for yourself. You’re producing it for your audience. You also now can use metrics. You can see what people are watching and clicking on. But you gotta use your news judgment, your gut feeling, in deciding what you think people need to know.”

With a constantly evolving news cycle Ramirez explains that her show never really goes to bed. “It is never over even after it has aired,” said Ramirez. She and her team are constantly updating with the latest, greatest, freshest, newest, and important information for their audience.

How then does Ramirez balance her personal and professional life? “Finding a balance is really challenging, I’m not going to pretend I have one. I don’t think I do; I could be better at it,” said Ramirez.

For people wanting to get into the journalism business, Ramirez warns to get ready for a life of sacrifice. “It is not a family friendly environment. And it has to be something that you love to do, but I believe this is an important service that we do for our communities.”

Ramirez was always a curious soul and a natural news fiend. But she fell in love with the news when she saw the power of media and its ability to save lives. On the local news side, when Ramirez was executive news director at KHOU in Houston, Texas, she saw how their platform saved lives with the information they broadcasted during the deadly Hurricane Harvey.

“I have a great deal of respect for the power of media. And people in this business need to have a calling for it,” said Ramirez.

In the age of the internet, everyone has the ability to create a website and publish articles and “do the news,” but that’s not journalism. Ramirez doesn’t do the news, instead she practices journalism.

 

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Staring down the job market during a pandemic

By Emma Oxnevad

I hear all the jokes about the less-than-ideal career prospects for post-grads. I laughed along—most of the time. But the pit in my stomach grows with every passing remark and with every thought of life after college.

In a move of extreme pragmatism, I threw myself head-first into the world of journalism, spending my four years as a student juggling positions in student media, internships, and various freelancing gigs. I even managed to get some sleep along the way.

I spent my time as a student confident that I was setting myself up for success, primed to enter the daunting realm of professional journalism with a well-equipped arsenal.

Then, the world was indefinitely shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The onset of the pandemic saw a staggering number of newsroom layoffs across the country, pausing long careers and leaving experienced reporters on the hunt for whatever open positions were left behind. Even though I still had another year of school to go, I had to shut my eyes. “This will all be over soon,” I told myself.

Well, it’s not over. As we approach one year of living under a global pandemic that has fundamentally changed life as we know it, it is high time to accept that this is the new normal.

My time as a student will end in four months. From there, I won’t be able to rely on the crutch of being a “student journalist.” The time has passed for me to laugh and mumble a joke when asked what my plans are after graduation. I’ll be on my own, and I’d be lying if I said the prospect didn’t terrify me.

The economic fallout of COVID-19 has impacted journalists at a disproportionate rate. But we are the profession best equipped to handle such a disheartening time for employment.

Journalists are, by the very nature of the profession, adaptable; working irregular hours, moving around the country, and previously facing the brunt of the Great Recession, in which media layoffs surpassed the 20,00 mark.

The job hunt amid an ongoing global pandemic is going to be a long, frustrating road, regardless of one’s career path. There are times where it may feel hopeless and one may feel inclined to give up and wait for life to “return to normal,” an increasingly abstract concept. But if there is one thing all journalists know, it’s that the bumpiest, most treacherous paths are often the ones most worth going down.

My expectations for my first reporting job have always been low, so as not to set myself up for failure and disappointment. The pandemic has shrunk them even more.

But I’m willing to pound the pavement—virtually, until it is safe to gather with others— and fight for my spot in a professional newsroom; I’m willing to hear “no” a hundred times over if it means I can hear “yes” even once. And it is the time spent as a student journalist—full of unanswered messages, getting stonewalled and spun by my university, and a few sleepless nights here and there— that has prepared me for this most intimidating endeavor.

Because reporters don’t give up.

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