How did media get the Donald Trump story so wrong?

THE Democrats aren't the only ones that will need to do some soul searching over the US election campaign results.

The mainstream media, not just in the US but around the world, got this election wrong. Very wrong.

They failed to read the mood of American voters.

Probably because they were too busy ridiculing Donald Trump as a candidate.

Many saw the election coverage as completely biased.

As thousands attended rallies around the country for Trump, reporters were largely focused on finding things to tear him apart over.

And let's face it, he was an easy target.

Like Clive Palmer here in Australia, Trump liked to shock.

He liked to say outlandish things.

Whether attacking Muslims or Mexicans, or blasting immigration and free trade, Trump appeared to be aiming for the lowest common denominator among voters.

But what he managed to do, as Pauline Hanson has done here, is tap into the anger over declining industries, the loss of jobs, failures in healthcare and basic government services.

As one journalist wrote for the Washington Post: "Journalists - college-educated, urban and, for the most part, liberal - are more likely than ever before to live and work in New York City and Washington, D.C., or on the West Coast. And although we touched down in the big red states for a few days, or interviewed some coal miners or unemployed autoworkers in the Rust Belt, we didn't take them seriously. Or not seriously enough."

Trump, for his part, certainly managed to alienate the media, calling them scum and corrupt.

But not enough of them took him seriously or considered the possibility he could win.

When he talked about a Brexit vote, it was met with disbelief.

But that is exactly what has happened.

The irony is that like Pauline Hanson, the media has helped to create Trump.

The more journalists mocked him, the more an increasingly cynical public went to social media and their own sources of information about Trump.

The growth of Facebook has meant that we can tailor our "feed" to the sorts of views we agree with most - or more accurately Facebook will do it for us.

Many thought Clinton was given a free ride, particularly over the emails.

What many in the media also failed to understand is that issues like abortion and traditional values, which Trump championed, were vote winners, particularly in a country that still declares its faith.

At a time of great global uncertainty, Trump offered Americans the opportunity to return to the "good old days", to "make America great again."

He captured their fear over trade and immigration and promised to make a real difference.

What many will be wondering, however, is exactly how he can do that.

How can he bring American industry back to those days in the face of competition from cheap labour countries like China?

Certainly in his victory speech, Donald Trump showed promising signs that he would be a president for all Americans, not just those who supported him.

His kind remarks about Clinton showed the grace which we have not seen during the campaign.

Let's hope that Trump will stand for decency and civility and put aside that crude, spiteful and hateful speech which marred his campaign.

And let's hope the media gives him a fair go. 

Mark Furler is group digital editor for Australian Regional Media. He has been a journalist based on the Sunshine Coast for 30 years.


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