Forum: Press criticism fails to acknowledge diversity in media

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Failing. Narrative-driven. Lying. Timid. Feckless. Elitist. Biased. Unwatchable. Enemy of the people. Unwoke. Globalist. (((Globalist))).

In today’s polarized climate, criticizing the press is just about the only position on which leftists, liberals, moderates, conservatives, and the Pizzagate guys can agree. To Donald Trump’s opponents, modern political journalism is too concerned with false objectivity to launch broadsides against the President and too hive-minded to accurately measure public opinion. To his supporters, it fails to adequately laud his accomplishments or capture the cultural zeitgeist outside of progressive enclaves. And yet, after Trump’s election, subscriptions to major outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times and The Atlantic have skyrocketed. Fox News, for its part, saw a massive increase in its viewership during the Obama Administration. These numbers suggest that the public’s appetite for an independent media holding public officials accountable has not declined.

What explains the criticism, then? A lot of it stems from the mischaracterization of the media as a monolith. Political ideology isn’t the only factor dividing media outlets: print and multimedia, local and national, and even news and opinion departments within the same publication all function very differently.

In conjunction with Texas Student Media’s Support Student Voices initiative, this week’s forum highlights some of these nuances. Daily Texan Managing Editor Akshay Mirchandani discusses how the divide between the news and opinion department at the Texan ensures objectivity in our reporting. Kathleen McElroy, the associate director of the UT School of Journalism, speaks on the news consumption trends of upperclassmen on campus. McElroy notes an informal survey conducted by journalism students which found that the majority of upperclassmen check the news on a regular basis. And Editor-in-Chief Alexander Chase advocates for supporting local news outlets, which haven’t experienced the same Trump-induced revenue boost as their national counterparts.

If you’re one of the stubborn few who hasn’t already broadcast your thoughts on the media, don’t miss out! Send us your take at editor@dailytexanonline.com. All your friends are doing it.

Shenhar is a Plan II, economics and government senior from Westport, Connecticut. Vernon is an anthropology and rhetoric and writing sophomore from The Woodlands.