Saturday, April 22, 2017

Jenna Johnson's Ten Things She Learned That Media Can Do

The first part of Washington Post White House reporter Jenna Johnson's keynote address at the Alaska Press Conference was a quick review of what she said at yesterday's talk about the campaign. But at the end she offered a list of things she learned that media can do to improve things.  Below is my rough transcript of what she listed.

War on the media has tempered a little a bit.  What can the media learn from this and do our jobs better?  Polls show Americans don’t trust the media.  We have to work on this.  I have ideas, but no answers - here's a list of things I learned things media can do
1.  Transparency - giving readers as much raw info as we can - links to reports, if you do a high profile interview put the video on line and transcribe it.  David Farenthold at the Post got a Pulitzer Prize for reports on Trump’s charitable donations - called around asking orgs about getting charity from Trump - tweeted and asked.  Went to Trump clubs, crowd sourcing.
Sopan Deb - took phenomenal notes at rallies, transcribed the best and tweeted the candidate’s words.  
2.  Power of simple questions.  Easiest most obvious questions are the most important to ask, and if they don’t respond, it means they’re hiding something.  So you have to keep asking.  Trump attacked federal judge because his parents were from Mexico.  (Reporter) ???? had a list of questions and went to ask, but ended up asking the same question over and over.  We don’t because it’s part of being respectful, but we've gotta keep asking.
3.  Stop playing the game to get access.  Need to realize you want sources in the administration, but you can’t be too cozy.  They’re giving you info they want out there.  It’s ok to be on their bad side.  Looking at what’s out there and connecting the dots.  People start coming to you with info.
4.  Stay out of the office and talk to people.  Need to be out there talking to people.  And listen to criticism when you get it.  We get a lot of nasty comments, ok to ignore it.  But if someone seriously reaches out to you about what you reported.
5.  Need for explaining.  Need to be better to explain complex material.  Lots of tools - tweeting, answering, engaging, graphics great way to present info.  Here are people with ties to Russia and connections, etc.  Here are all of Trump’s promises to people.  Made a list.  282 promises. (You can see it here.)
6.  Facts really matter.  Learned this week chatting with you here in Alaska that Trump wasn’t the first to lie to your face, that Alaskans have been doing it for years.  Now more than ever we need to call out the lies, do fact checks.
7.  Treat politicians like humans.  Foreign leaders and their staffs have been studying Trump for months.  A lot of evidence has been his books.  His children, like his daughter who teaches her daughter Mandarin.  How do they handle conflicts?  How do they act when they are exhausted?  I felt I had to capture the rally for my readers.  I’d stay up to 3am writing a narrative about the rally - here’s what he said, here’s the reaction  Best Mannheim, Indiana - nine sentence critique ??? Clinton - took Trump 25 minutes to read the statement because he went on tangent after tangent saying Clinton was crazy, to poll watcher, etc.  He couldn’t stick to the script.  This is what really happened.  Writing what you saw
8.  Connecting what’s happening nationally to local communities.  How will Trump’s budget cuts to the community.  Write about it now, what people need to know.
9.  Have a good support system.  Job can be hard.  Conferences are good ways to find fellow reporters where you can get good advice.
10.  Read as much as you can - all sides New Yorker to Breitbart.  Get story ideas from all over.

No better time to be a journalist.  People are more stirred up than ever.  People say, don’t talk to me I don’t know anything about politics.  But then they know all the Trump appointments.  Historic times, people really interested in what’s happening

The executive editor of The Washington Post Martin Baron said the Post reporters would do what they always have done and offered five words to describe what Washington Post journalists need to follow in how they report:

  • Honorably,
  • Honestly
  • Accurate,
  • Unflinchingly
  • Energetically
There's a good Q&A going on now, but I can only do so much?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.