How bad faith mobs weaponize objectivity

WNYC, June 4, 2021

From WNYC:

The Associated Press turned 175 this year. To call the AP a news organization is an understatement. It’s our industry’s beating heart: pumping high-quality information from across the world to smart phones, local newspapers, radio stations, and Facebook feeds. Its ever-evolving stylebook has shaped the lexicon grammar of the news. Its photos are featured every week on our website.

But, when news broke last month that the AP had fired a rookie reporter named Emily Wilder, the institution found itself at odds with media critics, right-wing trolls, and elements of its own newsroom. Then, on May 27th, On the Media’s Executive Producer Katya Rogers received a voicemail from an employee at the Associated Press, who asked us to examine the debate around objectivity there. When our reporter Micah Loewinger took a look into it, he found that Wilder’s case resembled a growing trend of reporters who’ve been attacked online after right-wing internet mobs dug up their old social media posts.

In this piece, Micah speaks with:

– Stanford journalism professor Janine Zacharia, who has studied how newsrooms can fall victim to disinformation campaigns.
– Vermont Newspaper Group reporter Aaron Calvin, who lost his job at the Des Moines Register after conservative media pressured his employer in 2019.
– Former New York Times Executive Editor and The Marshall Project Founder Bill Keller.

This is a segment from our June 4, 2021 program, Shamed and Confused.