At a time of contention between mainstream news and the Trump administration, there’s uncertainty of the future of media that the Robertson School of Media and Culture aims to address.
On April 13 in Temple Room 1164, Wyatt Andrews, a former correspondent for CBS and current professor of practice in University of Virginia’s Department of Media Studies, will give a lecture titled “Trump vs. the Media” followed by a question and answer session moderated by VCU faculty.
President Donald Trump has developed a contentious relationship with reporters and news organizations from the early stages of his candidacy and has referred to the media an “enemy of the state,” which, according to Bill Oglesby, an assistant professor in the Robertson School, is a perspective the American people have yet to hear from their president.
That’s obviously a challenging statement for the Fourth Estate, for something that’s important as the news media,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby said while by nature there will always be an adversarial relationship between journalists and government officials, it’s rare to see one so overt. He also said the media themselves need to be held accountable for these tensions.
“I have a lot of criticism of that aspect of news media, particularly in 24/7 broadcast news that does not strive for objectivity,” Oglesby said.
Trump has also popularized the term “fake news,” which touches on the idea of media literacy. This is the ability of news-consumers to differentiate between reputable and non-reputable sources.
“(Media literacy) is a particular problem right now in a different way than it was before,” said Karen McIntyre, Ph.D. and assistant professor at VCU. “There are so many sources of information online that people have such easy access to.”
McIntyre cited a 2016 study conducted by Stanford University which reported that students have a difficult time distinguishing credible and dubious sources. At points, the subjects weren’t able to tell between paid advertisements and actual news.
“I’m teaching our future journalists,” McIntyre said. “If they can’t do that, they could potentially get information from a non-credible source and put it out there for the world to see.”
She said this undermines the public’s trust in the media, which is essential for its effectiveness.
Since his inauguration, President Trump has excluded news organizations including the New York Times, CNN and the LA Times from White House press briefings and had Univision reporter Jorge Ramos removed from a press conference last year.
Oglesby said this is the point where this “contentious relationship” becomes a serious issue.
“Unfortunately, that was part of Trump’s business model for getting elected,” Oglesby said. “He knew there was anger out there, he knew that was a way to tap into that anger. It’s a very cynical way to get elected and conduct day-to-day policy.”
Both Oglesby and McIntyre said they’re hopeful to see some of these issues be addressed by Wyatt Andrews at the upcoming lecture. Oglesby said Andrews’ time spent reporting on national politics gives him a unique and respectable voice on the subject. McIntyre hopes the event will inspire attendees to pay closer attention to the news and it’s legitimacy.
The event is free and open to the public and will be held on April 13 at 7 p.m.