Glasser speaks on journalism

Published 1:57 pm Thursday, April 19, 2018

Susan Glasser, an acclaimed journalist who has served as editor with The Washington Post and served as founding editor of Politico Magazine, working with Politico during the 2016 presidential election, addressed students of Longwood University and members of the community April 3 about the role of facts and journalism during and following the 2016 presidential campaign.

Glasser’s address concludes a series hosted by the university, the “2017-18 President’s Lecture Series,” which has explored the current state of democracy in the United States. Past speakers included Jamelle Bouie, Slate political correspondent and David Folkenflik, NPR media correspondent.

Glasser spoke about conflicts between the president and journalists, contending that his administration has both helped and hurt the industry.

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Glasser noted that subscriptions of some publications, including The New York Times, have jumped during the course of Trump’s administration.

She said technology has played a role in the rapidity and depth that many journalists have undertaken during Trump’s presidency.

“Coverage now of Washington and of politics, on some respects, has never been better, and that includes the 2016 campaign in many respects,” Glasser said, but noted another side to the debate.

Glasser said that while investigative coverage has deepened, the respect for facts has not always been demonstrated by current politicians, particularly recently.

She noted a project she led with Politico Magazine where a team of reporters listened to every address given by Trump for a week in March 2016. After the team fact-checked the addresses, Glasser said the team found that there was a lie, half-truth and exaggerated claim for one out of every five minutes spoken by Trump.

Later in the campaign, a similar project was done again and found that the claims grew in frequency to once every three minutes, Glasser said. But she noted that Trump continued to the presidency.

“Facts are something close to our religion,” Glasser said, who was responsible for creating the use of pinocchios at The Washington Post, which ranks the viability, or lack thereof, of statements made by politicians.

She noted recent developments in Malaysia where “fake news,” or news that potentially threatens the reputation of the dictatorship, could be banned in the country, the first country in the world to do so.

“If you think tweets don’t matter, if you think words don’t matter, I suggest you think about what it means to have countries around the world passing laws banning free speech in the name of the fake news promoted by the president of the United States,” Glasser said. “This is not what we got into journalism for. It doesn’t mean we’re the political opposition. It doesn’t mean we’re partisan. It means we’re journalists.”