Panel Presentation: President Trump and the Press
On November 8, Loyola faculty and other industry experts sat down to discuss the topic that’s been dominating the news for more than a year: President Donald Trump’s contentious relationship with the press and political journalists.
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Hosted by the Office of the Provost, President Trump and the Press is a part of Loyola’s Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse initiative.
Wednesday, November 8
Damen Student Center, Damen Den
Newspapers like The New York Times and the Washington Post are seeing a growing subscriber base, but at the same time journalists have to answer questions like, “why do you write fake news?” With so much happening on the web and social media, individuals have every piece of information and disinformation at their fingertips. That’s why Jill Geisler, the Bill Plante Chair of Leadership and Media Integrity in the School of Communication and moderator of the panel, wants the panel to be a conversation with the audience—not a lecture.
“I hope the takeaway is that we all leave that day better connected to each other as citizens, as people who want to understand government with open minds and new information,” Geisler said.
Ahead of the event, we asked Geisler a few questions about what to expect from the discussion.
On why the discussion topics won’t be settled until right before the event:
We specifically decided to do it one hour in advance because the current news atmosphere is constantly changing, and so we wanted to make sure that any advanced planning we did wasn’t dated and overtaken by more important subjects coming out of the administration in the near term.
We have stories that are happening on the international front and on the domestic front. We might be talking about taxes. We might be talking about health care, but in three weeks we may be talking about those things still and possibly more. And this is an administration that through social media may divert the conversation because of a claim that’s been tweeted out.
On the changing relationship between social media and journalism in the past few years:
Social media and digital media have accelerated everything. Traditionally, broadcasters operated on a 24/7 cycle, but now everyone is operating on a 24/7 news cycle. We have to be on high alert in some cases because of what is being tweeted out by the president. In some cases, because there’s an expectation from citizens/audiences that if something is happening, we can’t wait until the morning news to tell you about it or until your paper is delivered. People want information delivered to them wherever, however, and whenever they prefer.
On why is this a conversation that still needs to be happening:
There is always tension between government and the press. The job of one is to hold the other accountable. That can cause tensions. Press ask questions—at times the administration might not want to answer them or might not want to share it.
But we are living in an exceptional environment. This is the first time a president has declared journalists to be the enemy of the people. This is the first time a president has consistently branded information with which he disagrees as fake news. Even when the information is demonstrably true.
It’s very important not just to simply say we’re going to support journalism because we have to hold journalists as accountable as we do public officials but it’s very important to talk about the ways in which this administration demands an almost higher level of professionalism among the journalists who cover this president. Those journalists have to be ironclad in their fact-finding. They have to be able to put information in context. Because a fact sitting by itself may not tell a whole story.
President Trump and the Press is a part of Loyola’s Civic Engagement and Civil Discourse initiative. Joining Geisler as guest panelists are:
- Bill Plante (BS ’59), Veteran CBS White House correspondent and Loyola alum
- Jane Elizabeth, director of the accountability journalism program at the American Press Institute and expert in fact-checking and the fight against disinformation
- Jack Smith, Veteran political journalist and Loyola School of Communication adjunct faculty