‘Fake news about journalism’ can only be solved with transparency – but how?

Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper does his best to address some of the myths of modern journalism, albeit in a manner which makes it highly unlikely anyone who needs to read it actually will.

He outlines four main complaints/misconceptions. This is one of them:

“You are out of touch with ordinary people.” That’s becoming less true. Brexit and Trump’s election shocked media into trying to reconnect with ordinary folk — especially white folk. Hence the new American journalistic genre of “Trump safaris” (visits to white working-class towns), while just before the Brexit referendum the BBC decided to fund 150 new local reporters to cover local democracy around Britain.

I agree with him that the accusation is becoming less true. But, I disagree with his reasons why. The “Trump safaris” (in the UK you might call it a “Northern Expedition”) are routinely a stain on good reporting, bringing little more than a gawp at the poor and, through absolutely no fault of their own, less educated.

That aside, this trend – journalists showing how they work – is one that should gain momentum.

Anyone who has spent a meaningful amount of time in a good newsroom will know the lengths journalists go to do their work in an honest, open and passionate way. What we need to do is find out how we share that, continuously, with the public. Documentaries like Showtime’s Fourth Estate give a glimpse at political reporting in the US, but such insights are too infrequent.

It’s been acceptable, in the past, for journalists to merely show the end result of their hard work. What we need to work out is how to show our working, without compromising our integrity – and the safety of those brave enough to come to us.