1 Thing We Shouldn’t Do: Tell Trump 10 Things He Should

A classic story device is showing up across all types of media: “advice” for the next president.

He needs to read these 10 books. He needs to consult these five experts. He needs to take these three steps. He needs to know this about that.

Those stories may work on opinion sites. But if they’re not handled carefully, they’re not appropriate for news outlets such as ours. They can make it sound or read like we — NPR, that is — are lecturing the president-elect and telling him what he “needs” to know.

We don’t do that. We don’t lecture.

Obviously, we do need to talk to a wide variety of people – from “regular folks” to Nobel scientists – about the president-elect and the decisions he makes. And, yes, we may ask about what they think he needs to know.

But if we’ve interviewed a cross-section of experts about what they would advise the next president, our reports must be framed so that it’s clear the advice is coming from them, not us.

It’s also important to remind the audience that, as President Obama and some of his predecessors have said, no one is ever prepared for the presidency. All newly elected presidents supposedly need to know a lot of things. Why else would the media do these stories?

(“Memmos;” Dec. 29, 2016)

December 29, 2016

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