Journalistic Objectivity in the Age of Trump

Torres, Robinson, Ruben, and Stelter discuss what it means to be objective. (Photo by: Mike Mills/TU student)

The presidential election is must watch reality television, and on a brisk fall evening Towson students and faculty received a behind the scenes look into one of the most controversial presidential elections in recent memory.

“Trump brings the biggest challenge of the decade to journalism,” CNN host Brian Stelter said.

On October 20 about 200 people filled the Potomac Room at Towson University. With the 2016 presidential election leading to more media scrutiny than ever before, a panel was held to discuss objectivity in the age of Donald Trump. Towson welcomed CNN host Brian Stelter, Maryland Public Television reporter Charles Robinson, Washington Post writer Jennifer Ruben, and Senior External Affairs Director for Free Press Joseph Torres to discuss the issue of objectivity.

The panel started off slow as the panelists defined what objectivity meant to them. The flash of the photographers’ cameras illuminated the room. It was clear early on that the panelists were trying to find their footing and avoid stepping on each others toes. Once the panelists settled in however, the intensity of the conversation picked up.

When the question of why Trump receives so much media attention arose, Brian Stelter gave an intriguing response.

“Journalists can’t wait to tell a story,” Stelter said. “Trump was the great story and still is the great story. He is the story of our time.”

Stelter’s statement sparked a response from Joseph Torres. According to Torres, Trump is a total media creation. Stelter then interjected with a strong rebuttal.

“Except for the millions of people that love and adore him and need him to win,” Stelter said.

Following the most passionate moment of the night, audience members had the opportunity to ask the panelists questions and share their perception of the media.

“I thought the panelists did an impressive job of remaining somewhat objective throughout the panel,” junior Sierra Egan said.

Although objectivity was the subject of discussion for the majority of the night, the panelists often discussed other facets pertaining to Trump.

“I didn’t realize how great a job Trump does at targeting  underprivileged white America,” sophomore Erin Cadden said.

With the night coming to a close, students and faculty filed out of the Potomac Room. Future journalists left with a better understanding of how to remain objective at a time when journalists are under more scrutiny than ever.




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