August 16, 2018 was a remarkable day for those who work in media, avid consumers of news or, in the case of rbb, work as partners with media on behalf of our clients.
In one of the largest coordinated efforts in recent history, nearly 350 newspapers across the country published editorials defending freedom of the press and admonishing President Trump’s recurring rhetoric calling the mainstream media “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.”
Several editorial boards cited the violence at the Capital Gazette as an example of the escalating attacks on the press and questioned whether it was a dangerous result of the Trump administration’s stance.
The initiative was organized by Boston Globe op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard and supported by multiple journalism and partner organizations including the Public Relations Society of America, the American Advertising Federation and the Arthur Page Society.
The campaign included papers from traditionally blue states like the New York Times but also featured pieces from the same editorial boards who once endorsed President Trump.
Still, several large media outlets chose not to participate across the country – from the Times-Picayune in New Orleans to the San Francisco Chronicle and the LA Times on the west coast. They said a coordinated effort was the antithesis of independence and instead “groupthink.”
Others felt it validated the argument that the overwhelmingly liberal media takes sides in a collective effort to undermine the President.
Many took issue with the editorials themselves, which encouraged the support of local news through subscription – a sales tactic that could threaten the authenticity of the campaign.
No matter what side of the issue or the aisle one stands on, we can all agree these are interesting times for our industry. In a millennium that began with the question of whether journalism as we’d known it would remain viable in an age of social media, it’s the media itself that once again has become the story.
While I don’t believe in the adage that all publicity is good publicity, the media is certainly relevant again today and ironically it’s President Trump giving them the most airtime.
Read some of the August 16 editorials and the counter arguments below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.