Media coverage of Donald Trump lacked seriousness: Pulitzer winner Steve Coll

Media coverage of Donald Trump lacked seriousness: Pulitzer winner Steve Coll

The challenges thrown up social media and corporate companies might have rocked the boat for journalism as a profession in recent times, but its significance in the society is still irrefutable, said Steve Coll, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.

Holding an optimistic view of the role the profession has to play, Coll, who is dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, said journalism was vital in forging accountability and transparency. He took part in an interaction here on Wednesday on ‘Emerging frontiers in journalism’ organised jointly by The Printers Mysore Pvt Ltd and Columbia Alumni Association.

While journalism’s role went undisputed, Coll felt there was a need for “revitalisation of professional approaches” in the field. He observed that public purpose reporting could help regain credibility for the institution of journalism.

Commenting on the media coverage of US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s campaign, he said it was not a proud episode in journalism history. Media had a role to play in Trump’s rise, he opined, stating that there was a lack of seriousness with which the issue was dealt. Calling Trump an “entertainer” who had understood the media dynamics well, he said the media “unfortunately walked into his strategy”.

Emphasising the need for developing common standards and ethical approaches to journalism, Coll called upon journalists to develop an interdisciplinary approach towards finance, accounts, technology and mathematics for efficiently reporting on issues of relevance.

Safety of reporters
The discussion was engaged and moderated by Rohini Nilekani, a former journalist and author, who raised several pertinent questions about the overbearing influence of corporate companies and search engine giants on media. She also expressed concern about the safety of reporters, noting a trend that saw journalists as “disposable”. The discussion also focused on the need for philanthropy in upholding journalistic values, dilemma faced by owners in the publishing, citizen journalism and the need for setting up checks  to regulate content.

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