COLUMN: Donald Trump and the media

The road to ‘Donald Trump, presidential candidate’ was paved years ago.

The road to ‘Donald Trump, presidential candidate’ was paved years ago.

It all started when the media adopted the 24-hour news cycle.

The attention of the reader, viewer or listener shifted to who had the latest breaking news.

For the media, there was no time to verify information because they might miss breaking that news first. So in that race to be the first, facts became an afterthought.

Trump has exploited this weakness to his benefit.

He knows exactly what to say to be the headline in every newspaper.

Good press or bad press, everyone is talking about Trump.

I’m not blaming you directly but every time you read a ‘Trump said what??’ story and giggle, you are part of the problem.

Donald Trump is a symptom of an uninformed public.

Back in the days of Cronkite and Woodward, the public was informed by balanced and correct reporting.

They still broke news but it was with a dedication to getting the story right the first time.

They also had a properly staffed newsroom to assist in the fact checking and research.

Someone like Trump would never have made it past his first speech because no one would have tolerated the obvious mistruths spewing from his bully pulpit.

Our political leaders now speak in sound bites, not complete sentences.

Watching our new prime minister frolic about shirtless in Tofino showed me that he understands exactly what it takes to make the front page of our national papers. Sizzle over steak.

Can you imagine Lester B. Pearson doing a thing like that?

The real question for us, as Canadians, is what can we learn?

As a public, we shouldn’t rely simply on press releases or sound bites.

We must dig deeper and we must hold our media outlets to a higher standard.

This is a democracy and in order for it to work properly, it requires our participation.

That includes how we get our news.

I am proud to say, at the Summerland Review, we take seriously getting the stories right the first time.

It is our job to tell you what is going on in a balanced manner.

We may not always be the first to break story but our story will always contain the facts.

We must also hold our leaders, at every level, to account.

When they say they will do something, we must make sure they do it.

So often, we hear platitudes and promises around election time.

Do most of these dreams come true? Sadly no.

It’s okay though, because all will be forgotten by the next election and those fancy signs can be reused.

As we approach another provincial election, I encourage you to get involved, learn the issues and challenge the candidates to speak in complete sentences.

Our democracy will be richer for your contribution.

But don’t take my word for it.

Rob Murphy is the sales manager at the Summerland Review.