Watch reporters dissect the historic election and its aftermath at the Columbia Journalism Review conference, co-sponsored by Reuters and the Guardian
Donald Trumps assault on the media may be exhausting journalists, but the New Yorker editor-in-chief, David Remnick, has dished out some tough love to tired reporters.
You cant afford to be exhausted, Remnick said, speaking ahead of a Columbia Journalism Review conference on Friday called Covering Trump: what happens when journalism, politics and fake news collide.
This is the time you drink some coffee and work. We need to do our damn jobs with a sense of not political opposition but sheer intensity for finding out whats true and whats not.
The event was co-sponsored by the Guardian and Reuters, and was livestreamed by the Guardian.
Fittingly, just hours after Remnick spoke, actor Tom Hanks delivered a new espresso machine to the White House press corps, along with a typewritten note calling on them to keep up the good fight for truth.
At the conference, held at Columbia Journalism School in New York City, panels focused on fake news, life on the election trail and dumping data in the Trump era. Remnick was the keynote speaker, chatting with New Yorker writer and Columbia Journalism School dean Steve Coll.
If you give in to inaction, Remnick said, if you turn off the news … youre helping the forces that have depressed you and that you despise in the first place.
He said although some of Trumps actions reminded him of an autocrat, the New Yorker and other media outlets still have the freedom to publish whatever they want.
In an interview, Remnick, 58, said he had noticed that many reporters, particularly young reporters, were fuelled with a vivid sense of mission thanks to Trumps electoral victory.
Did covering the new president give him a sense of mission?
I would be lying, he said, if I didnt say that there is an added intensity during a time when the president of the United States has sought to paint the press particularly some organs of the press, some of the most reliable, the most sincere as enemies of the American people.
I think thats unacceptable. Its one thing to criticize an article, push back against a piece, but to seek to divide the American people in so many ways, including in this way, requires our full attention.
In his speech, he said: I dont think Trumpism is a permanent state of affairs citizens, do your job. Judges, do your job.
The reporters roundtable featured Elisabeth Bumiller from the New York Times, the Guardians Sabrina Siddiqui, Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker, John Carney of Breitbart and Brian Stelter of CNN.
One key topic was the divide between the mainstream media and many Trump voters. Carney, Breitbarts finance and economics editor, asked Bumiller (who noted that the New York Times Washington DC bureau now has 85 to 90 staff, the most it has ever had): Do you have enough people who sympathize [with Trump] … or is it predominately staffed by people who view Trump as not just wrong but evil?
Do you have enough people who disagree with him? Bumiller retorted.
Stelter, who hosts Reliable Sources on CNN, said his team were constantly searching for Trump translators people who are not necessarily Republicans or conservatives but who can understand and communicate the presidents actions.
Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, appeared on a panel about fake news, a term he said he now struggles with after it was co-opted by Trump and those on the right to mean anything they dont agree with, rather than fabricated news reports, deliberately intended to be untruthful.
The term has been misappropriated, Smith said.
But, he said, there was now a grey area for editors to navigate, with questionable websites pushing specific political agendas and stories.
How do you write a story about a WikiLeaked email that is obviously part of a Russian campaign which is also interesting? Smith asked.
Smith said being honest with readers about how journalism is created gave publications credibility.
Were not asking you to trust us, were showing you our work, he said.
A fellow panelist, Sheryl Huggins Salomon, senior editor-at-large at the Root, said before the eventthat part of the issue with the medias credibility with the public was that people did not understand the work trained journalists do and did not know how to assess the validity of information they are receiving.
I think there needs to be media literacy education in schools, she said. The public has to understand the process of what we do and how we do it.
Stelter said he was surprised that he had not seen more new media organizations, projects and styles of reporting sprout up after Trumps election.
We need new stuff not made for the folks in this room but the people on Broadway, he said, pointing to the street outside.