By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Pitts optimistic on future of journalism

Leonard Pitts, known for messages of hope inserted into nationally syndicated columns about social and political problems, says he has changed.

“I have not hope,” the bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist said Tuesday night; “I offer you only faith.”

Speaking to a packed house at Linfield College, Pitts revealed his liberal/progressive perspectives on race and politics have been shaken by recent events. However, he found reason for optimism about the future of journalism.

That note of hope emerged when Pitts reflected on President Donald Trump’s assertion that the news media “is the enemy of the American people.” Asked if those words affect his selection and approach to column topics, Pitts responded at length:

“Those charges, I can promise you, will have absolutely no impact on me,” he said clearly.

“I started to write about it this week, but I’m just so Trumped out, I really just decided to write about something else … I know that for at least two columns I’m going to be on a Trump break.

“That said, what he (Trump) said will not impact me. And I think the only thing it will do for journalists, frankly, is probably energize them. This whole idea of being an enemy of the state, I think, will energize people in my profession.

“The fascinating thing about Trump’s war on the media – and this is all anecdotal and it’s very early, but I’ve been hearing this from multiple sources so I’m kind of encouraged – is that it seems to have actually strengthened journalism and people’s regard for journalism. Suddenly, I have people coming to me – and my editors telling me that other people are reporting the same thing – people coming to me saying, ‘Oh, you are the last line of defense. You are a bulwark against cynicism.’

“And I find that fascinating because as a journalist, I know that I am in an industry that has traditionally been held in all the respect and esteem of used car salesmen and divorce attorneys. People don’t love us. Except that suddenly, there is love.

“I’m also told that subscriptions to newspapers are trending up. Suddenly people want their newspaper again … It’s fascinating that Trump’s war on the news media seems to be leading to an appreciation of the importance of news media on the part of people who had kind of forgotten us, or didn’t think that we mattered.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

kona

I really appreciate the news media except when it becomes politicized (think CNN, MSNBC and Fox). Too many involved in the media playing to the slant of the news and how it affects their economic situation.

treefarmer

The new so-called “administration” appears to be attempting the establishment of a monarchy or dictatorship, the precise goal remains unclear. They are so determined to prevent the media from access that as recently as today many “unfriendly media” outlets were barred from attending a press gaggle at the White House – the PEOPLE’S HOUSE. They will tolerate NO transparency, no questioning of their “alternate facts,” no challenge to their absolute power. They are clearly determined to obstruct the facts and the truth, which makes THEM the enemies of the American people. (Most of us can recognize self-serving lies spewed from the lips/fingertips of an authoritarian conman.)

The Fourth Estate is our best defense against this assault on our democracy and the values of the majority of our citizens. To the press I say: we NEED YOU, we appreciate you, we respect you, you are - and have always been - our best defense against tyranny. It is very encouraging to read that you are feeling the support of the people, may it continue to grow as you continue to provide us with REAL facts. This war on the free press must not, will not succeed.

Mike

All media has a bias, just as all human beings have a bias in what they see and how they tell about it. There is a big difference between a media's bias report of real occurrences and a strait out fictional lie. A bias to the left or right, you can lean a little to the middle. But the real occurrence is there to be considered from a person's own judgement. A lot of media contain opinion and analysis which many do not seem be able to distinguish from reporting of news events. I support this paper and other media. They are the live blood of our democracy.

Rumpelstilzchen

I have yet to see a report about Trump in the "mainstream media" that wasn't factually correct. Just reports the Trump White House would have preferred not to have be published. But Trump is producing every one of these reports himself through his actions, and what he lets his people do.

As the US president, no matter who you are, you will be the most criticized, ridiculed, publicly attacked person in the world just by virtue of your importance. I'm sure this didn't occur to Trump when he decided to run. For a man like him, who needs adulation from lickspittles and adoring crowds, it must be hell. I'm sure that's behind a lot of his war on the press. But it comes with the job. As Truman said, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

kona

Rumpelstilzchen, you have either not been paying attention or watching the news feeds with selected memory. "A Time magazine reporter erroneously tweeted that a bust of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. was removed from display in the Oval Office by Donald Trump". This story was picked up by CNN, MSNBC and several other outlets and built into a "big deal" before it was withdrawn as not being true. Depending on the leanings of a particular organization, they are eager to embellish anything positive or negative about Donald Trump. There are many who would love nothing more than a failed Presidency for President Trump and that includes most (it seems) Hillary Clinton supporters.

Mudstump

Donald Trump is the king of "fake" news. He loved the so-called fake media when he was selling his birtherism nonsense. It seems there isn't a tv camera Trump doesn't like when he controls the show and the media were eager to give him the spotlight. Now that the media isn't towing the con man's line of whacky conspiracy theories and lies he has turned into a delicate little flower that can't stand the hot sunshine. He's even backed out of the WH Correspondent's Dinner because he is too afraid of criticism. He can dish it out, but he can't take it in return. He's weak.

kona

Mudstump, obviously you don't like President Trump. I don't like him either. The difference between us is that I am hopeful that his Presidency will be successful while you seemed determined to undermine every thing that happens in the Presidency. Would are you hoping for? President Pence? Or a President Ryan? Or what? Or, are you just going to complain for the next four or eight years?

Mudstump

Kona - yes, I may just complain over the next four-years if he lasts that long. I believe it's important to resist normalizing Trump. His behavior and character flaws spell potential trouble for our democracy and I think it's vital to know the truth about Trump and Trump's associates connection and involvement with Putin. We also need to know about his conflicts of interest and he should start by releasing his tax returns like he promised.

kona

Mudstump said, " I think it's vital to know the truth about Trump and Trump's associates connection and involvement with Putin. We also need to know about his conflicts of interest and he should start by releasing his tax returns like he promised."

I agree, it (involvement with Putin) has been an interest for all presidents in office. Nothing new there. So far the intelligence community has found nothing of significance and certainly nothing illegal. No one except the disgruntled are interested in his tax returns. He was elected despite no one seeing his returns. They don't matter and the returns are not required from any president.

Lulu

All I ask is for some dignity in a president...no fluttering hands...

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