Are we really an industry of liars, libelers, corrupt criminals, deserving of being lynched?
Editorial: One candidate for president presents a clear threat to the publishing industry and the rights of journalists to work without fear of intimidation, that is why TNM urges readers to consider the health of their industry when voting this election year
The purpose of this website is to cover the digital publishing industry. It was launched in January 2010 as a blog as a way of keeping myself update to date with developments regarding tablet editions, mobile websites, etc. In 2013, it was transformed into a news site. In the almost seven years of its existence it has never wondered if the industry itself was at risk, only certain companies or segments of it. Whenever it has covered politics it was because the news was that a certain media outlet had said or done something (like launch a political app) that was in that arena.
But tomorrow the nation goes to the polls to determine if a man who has targeted the media, threatened its legal protections, and called it corrupt and irredeemable, becomes the next president. It is for this reason that TNM asks readers to vote for their own industry’s best interests, and against those that threaten it.
Back when I was publishing a B2B magazine in the Chicago area I did a lot of research on the historic norms of trade magazines. I found that they were far more political than they are today, but still did not go so far as to make actual endorsements. I read a column from 1932 that said that FDR was a threat to the construction industry because he would raise taxes, or so the author claimed. Nothing was mentioned of the 23.6 percent unemployment rate, or the lack of infrastructure spending being approved. What bothered the author was that their personal income taxes might go up.
This lack of precedent is what kept me from even considering having my magazine make an endorsement in 1996. I knew that Bill Clinton wanted a more robust transportation construction bill, good for the industry, but that our readers were overwhelming Republican. The solution was simply to have a feature where the two candidates – Clinton and Sen. Bob Dole – outlined their construction spending positions and let the readers figure it out themselves.
I suppose that could work today, as well. I could recap the number of times that Donald Trump has blamed the media, calling journalists “these people are horrible people. They’re horrible, horrible liars.”
“I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” Trump said in February. Since then he and his surrogates have continued to dispute articles written in both papers.
Journalism is DEAD IN AMERICA! pic.twitter.com/50ZBOTvfHy
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) October 26, 2016
It is likely true that most journalists support Trump’s opponent. Polls show that Hillary Clinton leads by about 20 points among white voters with a college education – the demographic that dominates the media. It has also been pointed out that the overwhelming number of political contributions from media members went to Clinton. That total, by the way, was a measly $382,000 for the industry, only around 30 percent of the total contribution that was given to Donald Trump by one man, Peter Thiel – the man who bankrolled the lawsuit against Gawker Media.
If you told a plumber that one candidate thought his industry corrupt, and that the candidate’s supporters were threatening the lives of members of his profession, would you be surprised that this person would vote for another candidate?
In this election we are faced with an existential threat to our industry, and to its members.
Since TNM first wrote that certain newspapers and magazines had decided to endorse Clinton, the site has suffered DDoS attacks. I have also received anonymous phone calls, some mildly threatening, others ridiculous. If an industry website can so easily be targeted because of news reports that The Atlantic or Vogue has chosen to break with precedent and endorse a candidate, you can imagine what other media sites and their journalists are enduring.
Recently some journalists have been more open about the abuse they are receiving.
oh boy the alt-right is active today.
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) November 7, 2016
Katy Tur of NBC News aired a report where she told how it felt to be targeted by a large group of people at a rally. But for the most part, journalists just keep doing their work. That’s all any of us really want, to continue to do our work.
Many American have already voted in this election. Many others are finding that there have been obstacles placed in their way to voting. But as a columnist on Huffington Post said “I have faith that everyone who can vote, will find a way to vote.”
I live in Illinois, a blue state. Many people in this industry live and work in New York or California. But despite the fact that the electoral system we have means our votes end up not being as vital as some who, say, lives in Ohio or Florida, we still get to have our say. And we still have the right to vote. You have the right to vote for your right to work in an industry free from intimidation and legal threats. Go out and vote.
“For me at least (and hopefully for you) this is an ‘existential’ election,” Shadi Hamid, contributing writer for The Atlantic, wrote on his Facebook page this weekend. “I don’t wanna tell my grandkids I was too lazy to take the Amtrak when liberal democracy was at stake. This is not an election about policies. It’s an election about national identity and the foundations of the Republic and what it means to be an American.”