Conservatives have known for a long time that the media has a significantly liberal slant. We saw it with their incessant lambasting of Former President George W. Bush, and we saw it with their canonization of Former President (it feels so good to say) Barack Obama as the Patron Saint of Progressives. But what we haven’t seen, until now, is their reaction when they are the object of ridicule. Question: Can the establishment media take just as much as they can give?
Our readers well know that President Trump’s criticism of the media elite didn’t cease at the end of the campaign. He has continued to hold them accountable and has refused to pull any punches. The press, in return, has acted like spoiled, entitled children.
President Trump has exposed the media for their inequities, and actively fought back with hammer and tong. Meanwhile, establishment reporters and columnists have taken up their pens in an armed resistance. But fear not! True and professional journalism still exists in what has now become a no-man’s land between hyperbolic extremes.
In the wake of this morass between The White House and the press, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler sent a message to staff about covering President Trump the “Reuters way”.
Mr. Adler asks:
So what is the Reuters answer? To oppose the administration? To appease it? To boycott its briefings? To use our platform to rally support for the media?
The answer, according to the Reuters way, is for reporters and columnists to do one thing: their job. Mr. Adler points out that Reuters’ goal is and has always been to report the facts, without personal bias or agenda. The wire services’ Do’s and Don’ts show a news entity focused on professionalism and objectivity. Here are a few for your edification:
- Cover what matters in people’s lives and provide them the facts they need to make better decisions.
- Become ever-more resourceful: If one door to information closes, open another one.
- Give up on hand-outs and worry less about official access. They were never all that valuable anyway. Our coverage of Iran has been outstanding, and we have virtually no official access. What we have are sources.
- Get out into the country and learn more about how people live, what they think, what helps and hurts them, and how the government and its actions appear to them, not to us.
- Keep the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles close at hand, remembering that “the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Reuters shall at all times be fully preserved.”
Think of it! Facts, integrity, independent, freedom from bias – sounds a lot like the media we used to know.
As a global news organization, Reuters has sent reporters to over one hundred nations and reported from some of the most dangerous places on the globe and countries where actual persecution of the press exists. Mr. Adler reminds his staff of the following:
Never be intimidated, but:
Don’t pick unnecessary fights or make the story about us. We may care about the inside baseball but the public generally doesn’t and might not be on our side even if it did.
Don’t vent publicly about what might be understandable day-to-day frustration. In countless other countries, we keep our own counsel so we can do our reporting without being suspected of personal animus. We need to do that in the U.S., too.
Don’t take too dark a view of the reporting environment: It’s an opportunity for us to practice the skills we’ve learned in much tougher places around the world and to lead by example – and therefore to provide the freshest, most useful, and most illuminating information and insight of any news organization anywhere.
Editor-in-Chief Adler not only outlines a way forward under the Trump administration, but he reminds his staff that their duty as purveyors of the truth comes first. This stands in clear contrast to the attitudes of other established publications. (A list too long to enumerate.) This message is a reminder to the American public of what journalism should be. It’s not about the publication. It’s not about the journalist. It not about agenda or narrative. It’s about facts, integrity and – dare I say – ethics.
There is a way to scrutinize and question an administration with a critical eye that is objective, impersonal, and fact-based. Today’s political and media landscape, however, is personal, subjective, and full of ad hominem attacks.
You’ve heard the old saying: “With freedom comes responsibility.” America’s Fourth Estate must remember that reporting the unbiased, unspun, unadulterated truth, regardless of political opposition or personal party affiliation is the best path forward.
The rest of the establishment media would do well to follow Reuters’ lead.