Fellow Reporters, We’ve Gotten Too Lazy



Bring back the journalism of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Kristina Vakhman, News Editor

As journalists, our job is to seek the truth and report itnot to scavenge the crumbs of President Donald Trump’s tweets.

But digging deeper beyond an issue’s surface level is not what the majority of us are doing now. So much news comes out of the Trump Administration, providing an overwhelming amount of easy-to-grab material, that we’ve become too lax to still be considered professionals.

The Watergate scandal took reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein months and more than one front-page story to uncover. The body of work, to this day, exemplifies quality journalism: hammering away at the dirt with your shovel until you’ve struck gold, even if it seemingly takes forever. Such tedious work evokes positive change, as seen with President Richard Nixon’s resulting resignation.

Woodward himself noticed that modern-day journalism is too soft. A guest on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last Friday, he told the other panelists that the press “takes [Trump’s] bait” too easily. Instead of latching onto being called “the enemy of the people” and onto convenient news bites, Woodward suggested that his home paper, The Washington Post, and another outlet, like the New York Times, should collaborate and investigate vigorously to “make the case for the truth.”

“That means lots of work,” Woodward said during the program. “And let’s face it, we’ve become lazy and we have to stop becoming lazy.”

“We should’ve gotten [Trump’s] tax returns. I should’ve gotten his tax returns. I feel guilty every day about not getting his tax returns,” Woodward continued.

Closer to home, The Recorder’s piece on Theater Professor Joshua Perlstein’s glossed-over sexual misconduct is an example of stellar journalism. Former Managing Editor Ruth Bruno, the work’s author and a Central Connecticut graduate spent six months writing it.

Laborious? Very much so, but those six months of Bruno interviewing, rewriting and fighting for documents with Freedom of Information Act requests yielded a story that led to an overhaul in the way CCSU handles sexual assault cases involving faculty. The cover-up has been replaced with a zero-tolerance policy.

When a journalist pours their blood, sweat and tears into seeking and reporting the truth, great things can happen. Watergate exposed the corruption behind the face of the American government. The Perlstein story exposed flaws in a system meant to protect victims. Pieces like Ronan Farrow’s exposé on film executive Harvey Weinstein, which took ten months to write, inflamed the change in how people perceive harassment.

It’s time to stop clinging to everything put out by the Trump Administration. We, as journalists, need to pick our battles and filter out what’s important among the muck. Extensive coverage of the president’s outlandish tweets isn’t just unnecessary and stupid, but irresponsible. It’s alarming that it’s so easy. It’s bait. Good journalism is meant to be difficult; we’re the ones who need to pull all-nighters and drink every drop of coffee in the machine until we find the one clue that’ll uncover everything.

As Woodward said, the press should’ve searched more for Trump’s infamous unreleased tax returns. With The New York Times’ 14,000-word investigative report on Trump participating in tax fraud and lying about his wealth—yeah, do you even remember that?the press should’ve followed the money further. On family separation, we shouldn’t have allowed news like Trump wanting to revoke birthright citizenship to distract us from digging into why the administration’s considering separating children from their parents again.

This is not a profession where you just clock in and out. Stop picking up the moldy crumbs and trying to fit them into bread just because they’re right in front of you. Pick another career if you want to be lazy.