In the aftermath of the Trump win many in the media are looking inward to understand what went wrong. But is it too soon to write off journalism as a failed project?
In the very short time we’ve had to get used to the idea that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of The United States, the hand wringing for journalism has already started.
‘We did this’.
‘We didn’t see this coming’.
‘We trusted the data and not the people’.
‘We’ve lost touch with proper journalism’
There is no doubt that what we know as the modern media is breaking apart. The strands of a profession that hold it together, that define it, are impossibly stretched by digital fragmentation and an economy that now sells choice over balance. More than any recent events, even post-Brexit here in the UK, the industry seems shaken to its core by its lack of foresight. The simmering existential crisis that dogs journalism now risks becoming full blown, crippling self-doubt for those that find their powerful journalistic tools and practice are ineffectual.
The knives are not just out for a postmortem. Many in journalism are taking the opportunity to cut down some tall poppies. Data journalism is already the main target for the traditional journalists championing a return to ‘proper journalism — with all the self-righteous confidence of Trump supporter mandated by the win to call foul on liberal thinking.
But now is not the time to ‘fix journalism’.
Journalism — this election was not about you. In the next few weeks, we’ll need you to explain what’s happening. God knows what the repercussions of today will be. No one has a clue. That’s your job.
Don’t fill the airwaves with conversations about the role of the media. Don’t cram the pages of your papers with handwringing. This wasn’t a surprise . This was the outcome we couldn’t sell to ourselves.
We know what the lessons are.
Time to learn them by doing .