Thomas Urbain –
Through a drumbeat of almost daily scoops and leaks, The Washington Post and The New York Times have emerged as the titans of news in the age of President Donald Trump.
Michael Flynn, the general who served as national security adviser to the president, was forced to step down after the Washington Post revealed he had misled Vice-President Mike Pence about his communications with the Russian embassy.
The New York Times revealed that Trump had asked former FBI director James Comey to halt his investigation into Flynn.
Other media outlets, such as television news CNN, have had their scoops, but none on the scale of the Post or the Times.
“I think the perception is the reality. They are the dominant news organisations,” said Joel Kaplan, journalism professor at Syracuse University.
The self-proclaimed watchdogs of the Trump White House have become the go-to address for anyone within the administration wanting to leak information anonymously.
To cope with the deluge of news, the papers now have unprecedented resources at their disposal. The Times has six journalists exclusively covering the White House, backed by a five-person investigations unit, more than at any point in its history.
Even as it was putting the finishing touches to voluntary redundancy packages in January, the paper was earmarking five million dollars for coverage of the Trump White House.
The Post has an eight-strong White House team, and many more covering government news in general.
“This is war,” said Gabriel Kahn, journalism professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “We are in a information battleground … they cannot get one fact wrong.”
At stake is more than just the professional pride of the journalists involved: between September 2016 and March 2017, the Times gained 644,000 subscriptions.
The Post, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, does not release its sales data, but publisher Fred Ryan said online subscriptions were up 75 per cent in 2016.
“This is a sort of a happy instance where following the news and chasing down every lead and breaking story after story is good news practice but it’s also good business practice,” said Rick Edmonds, media economist at the Poynter Institute. — AFP
Thomas Urbain –