How Trump changed the future of political journalism

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He burst into the White House thanks to wall-to-wall coverage of his campaign speeches, made-for-TV antics and his rallies; he was booted out by the American people as broadcasters cut away from his anti-concession speech. Donald Trump’s most lasting legacy could therefore be on the practices, codes and considerations of modern political journalism. 

The big test

For starters, the Republican has left right-wing media with a purity test that Fox News is currently falling foul of by not unquestionably backing his false claims. Will others, perhaps even Trump himself, take-up that mantle in a bid to win over the Trump base as news consumers?

Polling caution 

His unexpected win against Hilary Clinton meant that the opinion poll and news media industries had to re-assess themselves. So when it came to this year’s election coverage, projections were used sparingly and polling results were often heavily caveated in both broadcast and print news media. 

Fact-checking surge

Trump’s time in power has seen a resurgence for fact-checking, sometimes in real-time as the President misspoke. With news outlets either hiring their own fact-checking staff or using the services of outside organizations, including Full Fact and FactCheck. 

The trust gap 

Republicans and Democrats will remain deeply divided when it comes to trusting the news media, an institution Trump consistently criticized and often attempted to undermine. Pew Research, by way of example, found a 47-point gap between voters of the two parties when it came to trust in the media, with Republicans mostly getting their news from talk radio and Fox News.

The horse race stays

The so-called horse race style of political journalism is here to stay and was prominent across the US broadcasters on and leading up to election day. Issues, including unemployment/jobs, healthcare and justice/crime, were, for the most part, hardly touched upon, while gangs of analysts and commentators looked at who was going to get over the line first and what ‘sources’ were saying, doing and even eating inside the two campaigns. 

📈 Earnings

  • The New York Times surpassed 7m subscribers in October, with operating profit increasing to $39.6m in its Q3. Revenues, however, decreased 0.4% to $426.9m. Subscription revenues increased 12.6% to $301.0m. As for outlook, the company expects digital subscription revenues to increase by 35% (y-o-y) in Q4.

💼 Jobs and business

  • Left-wing columnist and author Owen Jones is launching his own video channel, claiming that The Guardian has stopped his old YouTube series. Jones, who has bashed the “corporate media”, is seeking to raise funds on Patreon with monthly subscriptions of up to £10 per month. The money will be used to hire staff on “union wages”, potential supporters of the project have been told. The channel will have a weekly Sunday show as well as regular mini documentaries, interviews and vlogs.

  • City AM Editor Christian May is moving away from the London business freesheet and journalism altogether, citing his family commitments in a statement issued last week. Andy Silvester is his immediate successor as Acting Editor at the outlet, which won’t return to print until sometime next year. 

  • ESPN is allegedly planning to cut 10% of its workforce due to the pandemic. Approximately 300 people are being laid off, Axios is reporting

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📧 Contact

For high-praise, tips or gripes, please contact the editor at iansilvera@gmail.com or via @ianjsilvera. Follow on LinkedIn here.

Illustration: Makyzz