As journalism changes, so does election coverage

As journalism changes, so does election coverage

A former New York Times reporter came to UVM to raise concerns on how the media does modern reporting.

Former Washington Correspondent for The New York Times Adam Clymer has had decades of experience political reporting. Clymer spoke about the coverage of the 2016 presidential election Oct. 18 in Billings Library.

In his lecture titled “Whence Political Reporting,” Clymer discussed the changing nature of political reporting in the digital age.

“The main problems in media journalism today is an economic problem,” he said.

Reporters are incentivized to get as many hits as possible, Clymer said. Each click a story receives is important to the editor.

The future of media, in regards to how the profession has changed due to “hits and clicks,” should be of “serious concern,” he said.  

Clymer explained how the pace of the newsroom has changed. Stories are given less time. Often, stories covering the campaign trail are given to junior employees, he said.

“We use to have time to take a day to write a story. We had time to walk around the newsroom and debate the lead of the day,” he said.  In addition to being written faster, Clymer said there is less follow-up on news stories today.

Among the most obvious changes to journalism is the emergence of the internet.

“How many of you get a print copy of The New York Times delivered to your door?” Clymer asked the audience. Three faculty members raised their hands. “There you go,” Clymer said while the audience laughed.

Despite the decline in newspaper delivery subscriptions, Clymer recognized the importance of the internet.

“[The internet] can be refreshing and useful, and it can sometimes be irresponsible,” he said.

The rise of the internet has seen an increase in the number of anonymously written articles available.  

“I think as much as it is your to duty to be an informed citizen, it is your duty to know where your information is coming from,” senior Clare Tolan said. Tolan a political science major, said she gathers information about the current election from Facebook and in her classes.

“Probably,” sophomore Jon Trembley  said when asked where he gets his information about the election, “but I know some of my friends get their information from Fox News.”

Trembley said it is important to know whence political reporting is coming from “to know what’s going on and be able to make reasonable choices.”

Now retired, Clymer has been an active journalist since the early ‘60s. He has covered topics ranging from the White House to Watergate to the removal of Nikita Khrushchev as First Secretary of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. Clymer worked for the Baltimore Sun from 1963 to 1976, and joined the NYT in 1977.