Thursday December 10, 2015

The line between news and propaganda

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during a rally coinciding with Pearl Harbor Day at Patriots Point aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C..

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during a rally coinciding with Pearl Harbor Day at Patriots Point aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.. (Mic Smith/Associated Press)

Listen 20:01

The kind offensive race baiting coming out of the United States is the sort of thing that you might hope not to hear anywhere in North America in 2015, and certainly not from our leaders, or on the mainstream news. But when it's said by Donald Trump, who leads opinion polls for the U.S.Republican presidential candidacy, it does become news.  And that puts the news media in a bind.

Because we in the media inevitably amplify those comments as we broadcast them again and again, analyze and tweet them. All of this gets shared thousands of times. Reporters, editors and producers put those words, and that message, out there because it's their job to do so. 

But in the case of Mr. Trump, some are wondering whether it's time to stop. And whether there's a risk of crossing the line from reporting the news to spreading propaganda.

Reporters and editors are caught in a dilemma when it comes to covering controversial figures like Donald Trump because there is a question about how to cover xenophobic comments as news without giving those same comments a platform where they can be amplified.

This segment was produced by The Current's Suzanne Dufresne and Naheed Mustafa.