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How the press can save itself in the age of Trump

Journalism professor Jay Rosen offers some suggestions for journalists under siege on Recode Media.

Donald Trump Holds Meetings At Trump Tower Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The new conventional wisdom in media circles: Donald Trump is actually good for journalism, because the press has a newfound passion to write good stories, and Trump will provide many of them.

But hold on, says NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. Simply writing good stories isn’t going to be good enough for the Trump era. Drawing from a recent essay about how the press can rationally react to Trump, Rosen said reporters will have to work to save themselves.

“In order for the press to recover some authority, so that what it says about Trump makes a difference, I think journalists have to conduct an extraordinary act of listening that they’ve never tried to do before,” Rosen said. “What I mean by listening is not asking people why they voted for Trump or asking them what they don’t like about media.”

Rather, he said, journalists need to prove that they understand their audiences’ troubles better than the politicians do. That sets the stage for critical, investigative reporting into how those leaders are governing.

And that’s just the “starting point.” On the new podcast, Rosen also explained how journalists need to redefine their relationship with audiences.

“Ditching the ‘view from nowhere,’ or the ‘voice of God,’ and instead saying, ‘Here’s where we’re coming from’ would be very good,” Rosen said. “The second thing journalists should do is make it clear: Yeah, we’re coming from somewhere, but we’ve done our reporting. We’ve talked to a lot of people. We looked at the documents. We dug up information.”

“The third thing is to shift towards the claim, ‘Don’t believe me? Look for yourself. Don’t accept it? Here’s the data. You think we’re biased? Check it out.’ Show your work.”

You can listen to Recode Media in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with the movers and shakers in tech and media every Monday. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge's Lauren Goode, answers all of the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.
  • And finally, Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, such as the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Peter. Tune in next Thursday for another episode of Recode Media!

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