Wed, Jun 07, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Trump revives US media outlets

‘RENAISSANCE OF NEWS’:The ‘New York Times’ has six journalists and a five-person investigations unit covering the Trump White House, with access to a US$5m budget


Through a drumbeat of almost daily scoops and leaks, the Washington Post and the New York Times have emerged as the titans of news in the age of US President Donald Trump.

Then-US national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to step down after the Washington Post revealed he had misled US Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian embassy.

The New York Times revealed that Trump had asked former FBI director James Comey to halt his investigation into Flynn.

The president boasting to Russian diplomats about firing Comey.

The talks between those same diplomats and Trump’s son-in-law or his attorney general.

These, and almost all the stories feeding the extraordinary news cycle of Trump’s administration, have been broken by the two dailies.

Other media outlets, such as CNN, have had their scoops, but none on the scale of the Post or the Times.

“I think the perception is the reality. They are the dominant news organizations,” Syracuse University journalism professor Joel Kaplan said.

From the ground-breaking scoops of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, the Post and the Times have accumulated decades of experience in investigative journalism.

The self-proclaimed watchdogs of the Trump White House have become the go-to address for anyone within the administration wanting to leak information anonymously.

To cope with the deluge of news, the papers now have unprecedented resources at their disposal. The Times has six journalists exclusively covering the White House, backed by a five-person investigations unit, more than at any point in its history.

Even as it was putting the finishing touches to voluntary redundancy packages in January, the paper was earmarking US$5 million for coverage of the Trump White House.

The Post has an eight-member White House team and many more covering government news in general.

“This is war,” USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism professor Gabriel Kahn said. “We are in an information battleground ... they cannot get one fact wrong.”

“They really are the only news organizations going which have the resources to do these types of stories,” Kaplan said.

At stake is more than just the professional pride of the journalists involved: Between September last year and March, the Times gained 644,000 subscriptions.

The Post is owned by founder Jeff Bezos and does not release its sales data, but publisher Fred Ryan said online subscriptions were up 75 percent last year.

“This is a sort of a happy instance where following the news and chasing down every lead and breaking story after story is good news practice but it’s also good business practice,” Poynter Institute media economist Rick Edmonds said. “They’re trying to leverage that to even further boost their audience and their paid audience.”

Such editorial quality is being used by both papers to set themselves apart from the pack.

“There is a deepening recognition outside the building that the Times is vital to the future of the country, one of the few institutions with the drive and ambition to cover a changing Washington,” New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet and managing editor Joe Kahn wrote this week.

The papers are also trying to expand their traditional readership.

“Young people are out there now, they don’t read newspapers, but they do look at their phones and their tablets and they say: This information is important to me and it’s now worth paying for,” Kaplan said.

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