Journalists discussing their views on how to leave personal bias out of the media at Thursday’s panel discussion. (Photo by: Kerry Ingram/TU student)
“Journalism is faced with an extraordinary challenge in regards to Donald Trump,” said Brian Stelter, Towson alum and host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, at Towson University on Thursday.
Stelter took part in a panel discussion held by Towson University’s mass communications department Thursday evening, along with three other journalists of today’s media world. Over 150 university students and faculty members gathered in Towson’s Potomac Lounge for the discussion, partaking in light, friendly chatter before the panel’s arrival. The panel discussed many topics, the main subject being media coverage of the 2016 presidential election and in particular, Donald Trump’s effect on this election.
The discussion began with the panel sharing their definitions of objectivity.
“When I think of objectivity, it’s about taking my own point of view and taking it out of my coverage,” Stelter said. “Coming [to cover a story] without bias or perspectives is difficult to pull off.”
“Objectivity is the attempt to lead a reader to an obtainable truth,” said Jennifer Rubin, a writer for the Washington Post. “However, we make the assumption that they [the readers] want objectivity when they don’t. If I don’t match your views, then you don’t like it.”
Taylor Bromante, a Towson University senior studying under the mass communications major, agreed with the points made on objectivity.
“What journalism is all about is reliving what’s reported on,” Bromante said. “Objectivity is key.”
When asked about reasons as to why the public is losing faith in the media, the panel agreed Trump’s coverage contributed to that.
“Trump is running a media driven campaign and an anti-media driven campaign simultaneously,” Stelter said. “By attacking the media every day, he’s driving supporters to believe there is no media.”
The panel was also asked to discuss Donald Trump’s media coverage specifically, and the topics of race and honesty in adherence to his views.
“Trump has had more coverage than any other candidate during this election,” said Joseph Torres, senior external affairs director for Free Press.
“The problem isn’t that they put Trump on so much, but that they gave him so much power,” Rubin said. “Trump’s ability to stereotype and remove people from society is terrifying. Would Trump have his appeal if he wasn’t a racist candidate?”
“The L word is a new word,” Stelter said. “Liar! We’re not supposed to call someone a liar in the media, but Trump has made it easier for journalists to be more assertive – we can easily say he’s lying because he is.”
Jake Ulick, a senior studying journalism at Towson University, also agreed that Trump’s media approach needed to be discussed.
“Trump is definitely the bigger story by default,” Ulick said. “But people can’t be afraid to call out the crap. Journalists need to have the guts to do that.”
The panel ended on a more consultative note in regards to journalism.
“Journalism isn’t law and order,” said Charles Robinson, a reporter at Marlyand Public Television. “It’s not easily packaged and sought. Journalism is hard work.”