Saturday was a day for marching. My family all left town and headed to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, and many friends and relatives marched in other places, from Hana, Maui to Sarasota, Florida. I took a solitude march all by myself. I can’t think of a more appropriate, scaled response to the inauguration of Donald Trump; peaceful, positive, constructive and huge. FiveThirtyEight estimate there were a total of 3.2 million marchers participating (and they even shared the spreadsheet of their data). There are also estimates from the New York Times and others of the crowd on the National Mall in Washington D.C. between 470,000 to the over 500,000 reported by the March organizers.
Since I was not at any of the organized marches, I took a snowy solitude march with my dog in a Western Montana forest. I was with all the marchers in other places in spirit, even if I walked for three hours and didn’t see another person.
While on my quiet march, I thought about the bigger question, “What next?”
I was very pleased to see that the Women’s March organizers have announced a follow up campaign to the march called “10 Actions / 100 Days.” If you’re wondering what to do next, check it out.
Meanwhile, not one full business day into the new administration, the White House has declared war against professional journalism.
This troubles me.
If you care about the truth, find a way past fake news, and the fake people like Kellyanne Conway who need alternate journalistic realities to exist. Show support for the many hard working journalists who are reporting on the facts. Don’t let yourself be convinced that there is a media bias in everything that doesn’t come from Trump’s own mouth. If you accept that, we’re all in trouble.
It is really simple: Anyone speaking on behalf of a world leader who offers “alternative facts” should be called out as a propagandist and a liar. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has thoughtfully suggested that media outlets stop inviting Conway to appear. I hope many producers see his logic. I’d go a step further and suggest that people quit watching news programs that do invite her on altogether and seek/support some of the many more innovative, independent news operations that are doing great work.
I can’t say I’m finding all of the backlash well played. There has been some media response to Trump which I find retaliatory, defensive and largely irrelevant. This is much larger than the reputation of any single outlet. I may be liberal in my politics, but I’m not a supporter of biased news even when the bias favors my politics. What I seek in news is the reality. I seek facts, and a presentation that helps me better understand the world I live in. I do not like anyone using my desire to know the facts as a opportunity to enrich their political agenda. If more people felt the same, news markets — both liberal and conservative — would look and behave much better. And it would be much harder for fake news sites to spread their junk.
Check out the White House Press Corps’ open letter to Donald Trump, published by the Columbia Journalism Review on the eve of the Inauguration. I think this is a powerful statement, and one that I support. But the truth is, this is just like publishing a recipe. It looks good, but you have to actually follow though and make it to see if it tastes good. How news organizations proceed in their work is now more important than ever. My attention is going to those organizations who are interested in reporting on the situation, not channeling the facts through filters of political opinion. I will not be renewing my cable subscription any time soon, so Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and the other cable outlets are totally off my radar, and they will stay off. Same can be said for major networks. I haven’t watched NBC, CBS or ABC news for ages, and I don’t plan on watching in the future.
Find some of the innovative, hard working news platforms that are doing great work every day. Since I’m a committed cable-cutter, I rely on PBS for most TV broadcast news, and a stable diet of online reading. Lately, I’ve been paying attention to a wide field of news innovators that includes VICE News, ProPublica, and even teenVogue.
If you listen to the President and his crew of misinformers, you’d be very tempted to believe that the news media is lacking in its professional ability to gather facts and report them, that it is all a major left-wing conspiracy, and that the only source of light in the otherwise black vacuum of media space is Donald’s own Twitter stream of dreams.
The truth, ever running counter to Trump’s megalomaniacal ranting, is that we are living in a pretty remarkable and innovative period of journalism. Take the time to find real, thoughtful, and meaningful news. It’s out there.