CJR: Tips for Journalists Covering Trump

“The Canadian media now knows how to report on a post-truth, journalist-bashing politician, and they have some ideas for their American counterparts struggling to keep up with Trump,” according to a fascinating article in  the Columbia Journalism Review.

In “Canadian Journalists Who Covered Rob Ford Offer Tips on Trump,” their first piece of advice is that visuals speak louder than words:

No one knows that better than Robyn Doolittle, the now Globe and Mail reporter who was one of two Toronto Star journalists to see the infamous Ford crack-cocaine video. She was only allowed to watch the video on an iPhone in the back seat of a parked car—she couldn’t take pictures or the video with her. While that seemed good enough at the time, when the story came out thousands of Torontonians, including Ford and other city counsellors, said it was fake. “I was shocked that the half the city would think that the Toronto Star made up the story,” she says.

About a year later, now at the Globe and Mail, another drug dealer called saying he had a second video of Ford smoking crack. Once again, she could only watch the video on a mobile phone, but unlike with the first video, her paper agreed to pay $10,000 for several screenshots. When the story came out the next day, Ford checked himself into rehab, something he had never done before. “I have a newfound appreciation for photos,” she says. “In the days of Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, people expect to see footage.”

The article also advises journalists to start standing up for themselves, and emphasizes the importance of support from news agencies.

It’s also critical for reporters to know their editors and their newspapers will be there to defend them, says Irene Gentle, managing editor at the Toronto Star. “Reporters have to believe they will be supported despite the attacks on them personally, despite the attacks on the integrity of the news organization and the news industry,” she says. “The editor has to make that completely clear. The reporters have to know their job is to keep going.”

At Carney & Associates, we’ve specialized in working with journalists for more than 20 years, and it’s our job to remain abreast of the monumental changes that are reshaping today’s media landscape.

Now it’s more urgent than ever that we support legitimate sources that provide our news. Journalists can’t work for free, more on this in future posts…

Meanwhile, are you looking for a publicist, a publicity firm for nonprofits, a PR firm for small business, or an independent book publicist? Please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success–through reputable news outlets.