Trump's media battles could make journalism stronger, profs say

The presidential seal on a podium

President Donald Trump has been criticized by some for his comments on the media, but two UO researchers suggest his confrontational approach might actually be a good thing for journalists.

UO journalism professors Seth Lewis and Nicole Dahmen make their case in a recent article on the Quartz website. If outlets like CNN don’t have regular access to White House officials, the two say, they’ll have to turn to other sources to get their information.

“Attempting to switch to an outside-in approach might actually make media outlets stronger,” they write, echoing an argument from New York University professor Jay Rosen. “This tactic would allow sites to worry less about preserving the routines of White House coverage and focus more on returning to traditional investigative journalism — for example, by starting from the outer rim of government and moving toward the center, developing sources in the federal agencies and civil service corps” rather than people perceived as ‘players.’”

Dahmen and Lewis go on to discuss the distracting effect criticism of Trump’s treatment of the media is causing. With media focused on the president’s press conference, they said, nobody was investigating the circumstances surrounding Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security advisor.

To read the full article, see “Donald Trump’s absurd war on truth is forcing the media to act like real journalists again” on Quartz.

Lewis is the Shirley Papé Chair in Electronic Media at the UO’s School of Journalism and Communication. His research looks at conceptualizing human-technology interaction and media innovation processes.

Dahmen focuses more on the ethical and technical issues surrounding visual communication, specializing in photojournalism for the digital age. Her research has been widely published, and she is on the editorial board of Visual Communication Quarterly.

Both Lewis and Dahmen are Oregon Experts. See the Media Relations website for more information.