Thursday, July 06, 2017

President Trump's criticism of the news media affects local journalists, some of them say

President Trump has had a notoriously hostile relationship with many of the national news outlets that cover him--a feeling his supporters have been quick to echo. But local papers who rarely cover national news say that the animosity toward the press as a whole has been affecting them too, as we reported here and here. And first, here.

A great deal of this is likely because rural areas voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, James Warren reports for The Poynter Institute. He notes Pew Research Center polling showing that there has been a corresponding drop over the past year in Republicans who believe the press is doing a good job with watchdog journalism.

Sioux City Journal reporter Nick Hytrek says he believes local media are being lumped in with their national counterparts. "It seems that any story someone doesn't agree with is labeled as 'fake news'," he told Warren. "This is especially true in any story on politics or local government."

Tom Kearney, who edits three small papers in Vermont, told Warren, "I think it's easy to rip people when you've never met them, but our folks have met with us, dealt with us, and understand what we're doing. And for the most part, they appreciate our work. One challenge is to overcome the image of a news organization as a monolithic, impenetrable, uncontrollable force and demonstrate that we're neighbors, trying our hardest to deliver information local people need to have."

Jeffry Couch, editor of the McClatchy Co.-owned Belleville News-Democrat in western Illinois,
told Warren that he hasn't had too many problems with Republican readers, but acknowledges that some complain about perceived negative coverage of Trump. But most of the complaints he receives are normal for any editor: "We have always had our share of local politicians who criticize the Belleville News-Democrat because of our aggressive coverage, particularly when the reporting is about their area of responsibility. That goes with the territory."

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