How to cover the Trump Administration was the elephant in the room at this year’s conference, and it was being prodded at various angles by what seemed like every journalist there.
How do we, as journalists, hold elected officials accountable? How do we do that without giving credibility to proven lies? How do we report on statements from the White House in a way that provides our readers with concrete details while taking a different angle than other published reports?
The session with The Atlantic editors tried to tackle these looming questions. Here are some of my notes from “Reporting on Extremism in the Age of Trump.”
- Remember, if a statement or an act is, by definition, racist then call it that. Many times journalists and editors shy away from calling things what they are. Different ways of avoiding this word are “racist intent”, “appeared to be racist” and “racially charged”. When dancing around the issue, journalists often draw the main point, that the comment was racist, on the back burner. This point can be applied to terms like misogynistic and homophobic as well.
- Similarly to the last point, when covering extremist groups and views, do not be shy to call them what they are– extreme. There is a debate amongst people of the media as to whether or not we are giving power to extremists because we are normalizing and popularizing their views through various articles and interviews. A way of telling our readers that these views are not normal nor popular is to remind them that these are extremist views of a certain group. DISCLAIMER: There are extremist groups of all backgrounds– I am not solely commenting on the embolden White Supremacists of our time. Feel free to apply this ideal to many different situations.
- Finally, when covering extremist groups remember to put the size and popularity of said views into perspective with the rest of the given population. Often times readers feel that because the group is loud, they must also be large in numbers. This is not always the case, and in turn gives the group more power and validity. In this panels the editors said that it is important to clarify, whenever possible, the size of the population that follows an extremist rhetoric.
Post by Marin Scott