How has the Trump presidency changed the New York Times?

Post-truth “, voted word of the year 2016 by the Oxford Dictionary. Since then, Donald Trump has used reality as an adjustment variable: amplification, deformation, negation of”facts“have profoundly transformed journalism.

Witness for 30 years of the rise of Trump as a first businessman, the New York Times has always had a special relationship with Trump, – from the first interviews given to the newspaper in 2016 to targeted attacks of President Trump against the “enemies of the people”.

To talk about it, Jim Rutenberg witness and actor of political and media news with the New York newspaper since 2000. Investigative journalist, correspondent for the White House, political columnist specializing in issues of media treatment of information … Jim Rutenberg now occupies the prestigious post of freelance writer.

In 2016, on the night following the election of D. Trump, Jim Rutenberg delivered in an uncompromising article, a MEA culpa in the name of the press gave Hilary Clinton the winner: during this campaign, journalism had remained deaf to the rumble of the country, had not been able to listen. A deep questioning of the profession followed. For Jim Rutenberg, the New York Times and the press which “seeks the truth” knew how to draw the lessons.

In 2016, the political world believed that Hilary Clinton, the representative of this establishment would win the election. It is not that journalism did not take into account voters then, but it is they were talking to themselves instead of talking to the country. I believe that this time the press has changed, has paid attention to what it sees in the country (…) I believe that the press has worked much better today, is overcoming a lot of obstacles while the president tries to convince the public that journalists are liars. (Jim Rutenberg)

Questioning, renewal of methods, adaptation of communication strategies … these adjustments borrowing from enemy weapons to meet the challenges of relevant journalism in an age of disinformation are at the heart of the documentary ” Mission truth “(Liz Garbus, Artre) who followed the New York Times investigation cell for a year.

What has changed is that we have strengthened the investigative journalism. We need to better counterbalance fake news by better presenting what we believe to be the truth. We should always have done it this way, but bad habits had formed, we were not as demanding. The change has been go back to our basics, to re-engage in our essential mission: to defend the truth (Jim Rutenberg)

This new requirement in the information industry is dedicated not only to establishing facts, but now, in the face of fake-news, to ensuring their widest possible distribution in a polarized media environment. Added to this is the challenge of political neutrality essential to the journalism defended by the NY Times.

We are journalists, we do not take sides. we see the facts, without political consideration. We do what we think is fair … the NYT is a newspaper that works for the truth. When the President and the Government oppose the truth, it is true that we appear as an opposition newspaper. From our point of view, we are on the side of the facts, presenting reality as it is. (Jim Rutenberg).

Sound extracts:

  • Two extracts from the documentary “Mission Vérité” (2018, Arte): Dean Baquet editor-in-chief of the NYT; D. Trump and the NYT

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