I had an interesting, even disturbing experience covering the W20 Summit in Berlin for The Jerusalem Post, focusing on the “Inspiring Women” panel headlined by “First Daughter” Ivanka Trump.
She made this otherwise academic summit into a paparazzi affair, and it seemed like the press was eager for that click-bait story (like when President Trump apparently refused to shake Chancellor Merkel’s hand last month in Washington). They got their headline when Ivanka mentioned her father’s family advocacy to the “crowd’s” heckles.
“Ivanka Trump Booed….”
Sitting in the back, I didn’t hear “boos.” I certainly heard hissing, a few groans, which weren’t so loud, but audible. The women conference participants sat up front. The headline-hungry media clustered to the side. I heard the hissing from the newly packed media section, not the female participants up front, who overall kept the event classy.
But with the “hissing” and maybe a boo or two, the media got their sensational headline. “Ivanka Trump Booed!” One outlet started it, perhaps CNN or Reuters, and then the headline went viral, and the story became not the challenges facing women, but the supposed humiliation of “booed” Ivanka.
I’m sorry that people in my profession may have stooped this low. I’m skeptical of tagging “fake news” to stories, but I think I saw it in action. I think members of the media did the heckling. I will always seek to be objective in news coverage. It’s almost impossible for any journalist to be fully clean of bias in reporting, but we must strive for accuracy. We are not tabloids or activists, unless stated.
We are journalists with an important function. Ivanka handled herself, as a guest to Germany, with poise and eloquence, and I think she emerged as a role model promoting female camaraderie. I wish I could say the same for some of my colleagues.