Tory Maguire, editor-in-chief of HuffPost Australia, moderates a panel with 7.30’s Leigh Sales, David Rowe from the Australian Financial Review, Tonya Mosley of KQED (US) and Damien Cave from The New York Times. Caitlyn Hurley/The Walkley Foundation

The good, the bad and the ugly

Has Trump changed the nature of journalism?

ABC 7.30 presenter Leigh Sales says she is “rattled.” She fears her traditional analytical tools of truth and facts are useless if the audience doesn’t believe her.

“Now, even when you expose untruths, it doesn’t seem to have an impact,” she said at Storyology Sydney today, on a panel about US politics called, subtly, “WTF Is Happening in the USA?”

Donald Trump’s rise to the US presidency has caused a significant divide between the people and the media — or part of it. Sales fears that audiences’ trust in the media is under threat from politicians like Trump crying “fake news” as a device to discredit truthful journalism.

Sales says she is shocked by the language she now finds herself using when talking about Trump, as she has never spoken like this about other politicians. For instance:

“I think a lot of politicians are narcissists. The difference is, that’s my opinion—with Trump it’s a fact.”

Yet New York Times Australian Bureau Chief Damien Cave says that he is energised by the election outcome. It has highlighted the need for journalists to “get out their bubbles.”

“I think it has reinvigorated the accountability of journalism and prompted a taste of nuanced, character-driven storytelling.”

Finally, David Rowe, Australian Financial Review editorial artist, says Trump’s effect has been to suck up all of journalists’ attention. It’s almost difficult for him to stray from Donald Trump and focus on other stories.

“Every morning I wake up and say, “What has he done today?” he said.