Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Most Traditional of Traditional Media Lead in 2016 Presidential Campaign Reporting

The New York Times publication of Donald Trump's 1995 tax return a few days ago underlines the heroic work that the most traditional of traditional media - the paper press, and its reflection online - has been doing in the U. S. 2016 Presidential campaign.

The actual tax returns were of course dropped off in a reporter's mailbox at the Times, so it didn't take much work to retrieve them.  But it took acumen and shoe leather to track down the retired accountant in Florida who prepared the tax returns, and confirm that they were the real thing.  Even the excellent New York Daily News tabloid couldn't do that - the returns were left in their mailbox, too, but they lacked the depth and reach of a classic full-throttle newspaper like The New York Times and its reporting team of David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner, and Megan Twohey.

Over at Newsweek, one of the two historical titans (with Time magazine) of news magazines, Kurt Eichenwald has published top-notch investigative reporting on Trump's overseas business entanglements and his dealings with Cuba in violation of the US embargo.   These stories were so important that Rachel Maddow at MSNBC previewed each of them on her show the night before their publication in Newsweek, providing a rare occasion in which the traditional paper press not Twitter served as the primary source of a cable news hour.

Meanwhile, David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post has been publishing stories for months that expose the truth of the Trump "charitable" Foundation, and the way it has been used in unethical and illegal ways to suit and further Trump's interests.    A course could be offered at any university about investigative reporting based just on Fahrenthold's relentless pursuit of this story.

I've been saying for years now that traditional print media have had their day, and certainly are not now what they once were.  Newsweek even paused its print edition for a little over a year, and the readership of The New York Times and the Washington Post has plummeted since their heydays.  But after the reporting they've provided in the past months, I'll make no mistake about it:  even in their diminished form, traditional print journalism has been providing unique and extraordinary service to our democracy.







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