Davos 2019: Journalists Need To Be Better Listeners, Says Washington Post’s Martin Baron
There is too much talking that goes on in journalism, and not enough listening, according to Martin Baron, executive editor at the Washington Post.
“We need to be better and generous listeners,” he said. This is also one of the biggest lessons that journalists should have learnt in the elections that made Donald Trump the U.S. President, said Baron, who was the editor of The Boston Globe when the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into sex abuse by priests in Catholic Church.
I think that the lesson from that election was that we as journalists, well before Donald Trump became a candidate, we should have detected what was happening in our society that would lead to a candidate like Donald Trump.
Speaking to BloombergQuint on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Baron said a polarised society makes it difficult to cover news, and this issue is aggravated because people can’t seem to agree on what even the basic facts are.
In democracies, we have to agree on a baseline set of facts. We can disagree about how to solve the problems in society, or what the primary issues are. We should have those kinds of debates. That’s the purpose of a democracy, but we have to work from a baseline set of objective facts.
Both U.S. and India are big democracies where the governments have been dismissive of the media in general. As India heads to a general election in a few months, Baron has a word of advice from the U.S. media’s coverage of the presidential elections.
There’s no alternative than to just do what you’re doing with facts, he said, talking about the war the President has declared on the media, and the difficulties of working in an environment like that. “Although the President says he’s at war with the media, we don’t see ourselves at war with him. We’re at work. We won’ t be distracted by his (Trump’s) attacks on us.”
Watch the full interview here: