Is it time for newspapers to ditch the opinion section?

Is it time for newspapers to say goodbye to their opinion sections? I’ve always been a defender of the opinion page for its tradition of unsigned editorials that motivate societal change, and for its ability to create a forum to discuss a wide array of differing viewpoints through columns and letters to the editor. But I’m also not blind to the fact that today’s newspaper readers in large numbers don’t seem to “get it.”

Readers don’t have the same relationship with newspapers as they once did. Readers aren’t looking to newspapers to be the forum of cutting-edge thought and discourse anymore.

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Watch cable news, but don’t get all your news there

Last week, a story broke revealing that Mike Pence used his private AOL email to conduct government business while he was Governor of Indiana.

As would be expected with a story of this nature, it became one of the top stories on cable news for a couple of days. For most Americans, that is where most news stories originate — which is sad considering that the cable news formula consists of seconds of reporting followed by an hour of punditry.

If you are someone who gets the bulk of their news from television, you may be shocked to learn that CNN and Fox news don’t break most of the stories they report.

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The silence of the White House press corps is deafening

I’ve spent the last few days pondering what to write about Friday’s chapter in the continued saga between the White House and the press. To be honest, I am still baffled by the whole thing, so this post will probably be raw and unpolished.

To recap, during his address at CPAC, President Trump reiterated his claim that the media is the enemy of the American people. Hours later, his press secretary Sean Spicer put his stamp on that claim by excluding CNN, The New York Times and Politico from an informal press gaggle.

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45 Quotes from U.S. Presidents About The Press

In a tweet Friday night, President Donald Trump referred to the media as “the enemy of the American people.” As expected, journalists did not take kindly to this allegation, viewing it as dangerous and unprecedented.

Famed White House correspondent Helen Thomas once said “All presidents rail against the press. It goes with the turf,” and while Trump’s words may be among the harshest and most frequent, he is far from the only president to lash out at the media.

While Richard Nixon is the only other U.S. President to refer to the press as “the enemy,” others have had plenty to say about the role of the press of their day or a free press in society. Some have cast the press in a positive light and others in a negative light. Thomas Jefferson, did both. Here are 45 quotes from presidents about the press:

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Jake Tapper’s confrontation with Kellyanne Conway was a win for journalism

In an interview with Kellyanne Conway today, Jake Tapper sparred with one of Donald Trump’s key advisers for 25 minutes over the administration’s strained relationship with the media and the facts. The full interview is a clinic for journalists on how to respond to government officials, bureaucrats and PR professionals who try to spin their way around the issues or the questions being asked. The full video is below, followed by a few take-aways that can help journalists at all levels deal with difficult sources.

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Is this breaking news?

Granted, if you’ve been following this blog you know that I have a rather extreme view of when news should be breaking, but I’m just not sure this constitutes a breaking story. Your thoughts?

4 things we learned from Sean Spicer’s controversial first press conference

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer left the White House press corps shell-shocked after his first press briefing. The new Trump administration spokesman roared into the briefing room on a mission to rebut reports that the crowd size for President Trump’s inauguration may have been smaller than the crowd for President Obama’s. During his tirade, Spicer cited grass coverings that he claimed were used for the first time at Trump’s inauguration and D.C. Metro numbers showing higher turnout. Both arguments were easily refuted by the press shortly after the impromptu press briefing concluded. When the briefing concluded, Spicer refused to take questions from the press pool. While the briefing itself was unexpected, it did give us a glimpse into what journalists can now expect when covering the Trump Administration.

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Journalists to BuzzFeed: Grow Up

BuzzFeed’s decision to publish a 35-page intelligence dossier about Donald Trump’s dealings in Russia set off a firestorm on Twitter that many of us wish we could un-see and also started a hearty debate over what journalism should look like in 2017.

From the start, BuzzFeed did inform readers that the information they were presenting was not verified. BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended the decision to publish the report by claiming that it was an act of transparency.

“Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers. We have always erred on the side of publishing.” -Ben Smith

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Content is king, but don’t forget context

One of the greatest benefits digital publishing gives newsrooms is the ability to show the context of today’s stories in ways we have never been able to in the past. In print, there are only so many pages, and inch-counts dictate how much news and background information we can give readers. In radio and television, each story can only last a set number of seconds, which significantly limits the ability to give the audience an in-depth backstory.

In the digital world, not only can the text of a story be paired with photos, graphic elements and videos, but we have more opportunities to point our audiences toward relevant related stories that provide more details about the topic they are reading about. This can take several forms, but I’ll name just a few that I’ve seen used effectively.

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Should the press take a more anti-establishment tone?

Riding a wave of anti-establishment enthusiasm, Donald Trump swept the swing states and the electoral college and the Republicans swept both houses of Congress. The victory baffled many in the political and media establishments who were unaware of how powerful the nation’s anti-establishment sentiment truly was.

While much has been written and will be written about this election and the mood of the country leading up to it, one thing is clear in the aftermath: Americans have lost faith in established institutions. A cursory glance at the social media activities of the president-elect’s supporters reveal that not only have they lost faith in the institution of government, but more painfully in the media as a whole.

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