The 2016 Election and its Impact on the State of Journalism

News

In today’s news media, presidential debates are often anticipated as a national event of significant importance – a Super Bowl of American democracy where the entire country is watching. With the election panning out the way it did, and Donald Trump becoming the President-elect of the country many speculate his influence on the news media and the news media’s portrayal of political figures in certain lights.

Marty LeGrand, a Shippensburg alumnae and a current senior contributing writer for the Baltimore Magazine, shared some of her thoughts on how the election impacts the state of journalism in the United States. Marty reflected on her first time voting in 1972 as a freshman at Shippensburg University during the tenure of President Reagan. She recollects the impact news media had in the covering of the political scandal that forced President Reagan to resign from office. The people’s trust in the media at the time was well-placed and the covering of the issue was unbiased as the various news outlets throughout the country provided a clear-cut view of what was happening.

“Those were good times for journalism, not because the profession had the power to influence political change but because it had the public trust that enabled necessary change to occur,” Marty said. “My how things have changed.”

She explained that current news outlets, and all their varying attributes that set them apart from one another, have all contributed to fracturing this public trust that the news media previously built with consumers. Additionally, Marty and many other journalists believe it is a right, not a privilege, for citizens to receive factual information without prejudice and bias imposed by news media outlets; these changes must be made in order to regain this lost trust the public has in the news media.

“Now more than ever (to borrow a 1972 campaign slogan), journalism needs to repair its reputation by reminding citizens about journalists’ proper role in a democracy,” Marty said. “By drawing a distinction between fact-based, impartial journalism—the profession my colleagues and I learned at Shippensburg—and agenda-driven reporting that distorts or fabricates news for its own purposes.”

Written by: Ben Klimchock