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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Rebuilding trust in media through unprecedented circumstances

New York University journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen gave a lecture titled “Restoring Trust in the American Press after Trump’s Election” as part of an Aggie Agora lecture series on March 24.

The lecture addressed America’s trust in the press in light of the Trump administration. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session and a chance to meet Rosen during an Aggie Agora coffee hour.

Rosen said the reduction of news readership is not only due to use of new technologies, but the result the shrinking number of journalism professionals.

“There’s been an economic crisis in the news since the rise of the internet,” Rosen said. “Because of this, we have newsrooms with half, a third, of the reporters they once had. So the result is a thinned out product. And when that happens, people feel less of a need for that product. And this affects the local level, and the local level is where people learn to trust the news. They learn why a good journalist plugged into his or her community can help you lead a better life.”

According to Rosen, political parties have played a negative role in portraying journalists and their intent to relay news.

“On the political right of this country, the conservative movement, there is an organized campaign to discredit the profession of journalism,” Rosen said. “What I mean by organized, is it starts with the person at the top, the president on the United States, who is constantly explaining to his followers not only that they should distrust the media, but that if they hate the news media, that it’s justified.”

Rosen said it is not only the conservative population, but Trump’s attitude toward the press in general which has contributed to the public’s low level of trust in the media.

“When you call [the press] the enemy of the American people, that’s about as far as you can go; it’s close to saying they are traitors to the country,” Rosen said. “When the president is the leader of that movement, that generates a lot of cultural resentment. Its very hard to counter that.”

According to Rosen, the public’s mistrust in the media has resulted in people who do not believe journalist who claim to be objective. Rosen said the best way to rebuild trust is to be as transparent with the audience as possible.

“They’re not going to believe you if you say ‘No, really, I’m serious, I don’t have an agenda, I’m just giving you the news,’” Rosen said. “You can’t get out of that loop by insisting even more strongly what is sometimes called objectivity. I believe the only way out of that box is for journalists to begin to learn to say to us ‘here’s where I’m coming from.’”

Several students attended the lecture, including sports management junior Tatiana Mayberry who said he enjoyed Rosen’s speech because even though it contained difficult subject matter it kept his interest.

“ I think he did a really good job, considering it is a political topic, not going too far into the politics of it, but going into the media and their job in it,” Mayberry said. “A lot of people have a tough time separating when it comes to anything political, they automatically just go to what their beliefs are, and what they think, and don’t necessarily listen to the entire message.”

Mayberry said the biggest lesson he took away from the speech was each citizen’s role in helping to maintain a reliable journalism industry.

“We as a people have to hold the media accountable, and that’s the only way [America’s trust in the media] is gonna get any better,” Mayberry said.

Business honors senior Molly Smith said the most impactful part of the lecture was Rosen’s take on how Trump has changed the way people view the media.
“I liked his point about how its [American trust in the media] not a partisan issue, it’s a Trump issue,” Smith said. “It started with him, and the position we are in right now with the media is unprecedented, it’s not Republican or Democratic. These tendencies are not democratic. The free press is something that we should celebrate, not attack, and having a president who is doing that is not cool.”

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