Winston parallels media roles in ages of Reagan and Trump

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Media roles from the days of Reagan could help journalists in the age of Trump, according to Diane Winston.

“You can’t understand the present if you don’t know the past,” said Winston, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Southern California.

By explaining how the policies of Reagan spread, Winston created a parallel between the media roles of Reagan and the media roles of Trump.

Winston said Reagan framed global politics into two parts, good and evil.

“His framing became normalized,” she said. “It is crucial today, the role of the media in normalizing new ideas.”

Winston explained that normalizing is a spread of ideas that allows them to become customary.

“That’s a lot of what the media often does. It takes ideas that may seem extreme and by repeating them they become normal,” she said.

“Ongoing coverage, even negative, maintained Reagan’s ideas,” said Winston.

Trump, much like Reagan did in the 1980s, faces a backlash because of the media’s interpretation of his ideas, explained Winston. However, like Reagan, this coverage does not deter Trump.

“Any press is good press,” said Winston. “As long as you get your name out there it’s good press.”

The event was the eighth annual David L. Dungan lecture, sponsored by the UT Department of Religious Studies.

The lecture drew a sizeable crowd, nearly filling up the large Strong Hall lecture room.

Most of audience members could remember the days of Reagan, having experienced it themselves. The rest was made up of those who learned about it in history books.

Winston said that with fake news in today’s media, journalists are becoming something they should try to avoid: biased.

“The news media establishes agendas. It does not tell you what to think, just what to think about,” she said.

For more information on the David L. Dungan memorial lectures, visit http://religion.utk.edu/about/dungan.php.


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