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Donald Trump’s stance against media inspired investigative reporters in America, says Spotlight journalist Michael Rezendes

“At a time when power regimes have become hostile to the media and when a vast section of the public which consumes media has become sceptical of it, the onus comes on news organisations to tell the truth,” feels Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Michael Rezendes, who, as part of The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team, uncovered sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church.

Donald Trump’s stance against media inspired investigative reporters in America, says Spotlight journalist Michael Rezendes
Trump was met with global condemnation when he announced in June 2017 that the United States was pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, painting it a "bad deal" for the US economy.

“At a time when power regimes have become hostile to the media and when a vast section of the public which consumes media has become sceptical of it, the onus comes on news organisations to tell the truth,” feels Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Michael Rezendes, who, as part of The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ team, uncovered sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church. The story also inspired the Oscar-winning film Spotlight. In Jaipur for the ongoing literature festival, he urged big media organisations to spend money and resources on investigative journalism, saying they can “take risks and defend themselves”. “Big media houses have a special responsibility, which is questioning the government, large corporations and all other organisations that play an important role in society,” he told FE in an interview. Commenting on US President Donald Trump’s stance against the media, he said, “Trump has inspired investigative reporters all over America to do their best work. He has picked up a fight of his life. But my concern is when his peers in other parts of the world, like Turkey or Cambodia, feel it’s an open season and start putting journalists in jail or shutting media houses. Trump’s anti-media effect is having a more pernicious effect overseas.” Talking about the media in India, he commented: “I do see the trouble Indian media is going through, as I get to hear about it from other reporters who are working overseas. It’s not a very good thing to cave in to any kind of pressure,” adding, “Press freedom is crucial for democracy, be it America or India. Only the truth exists. Post-truth is simply distortion of facts. It is terrible for democracy.”

In 2017, India slipped to number 136 on the World Press Freedom Index (down three points from 2016). He went on to say: “You must always question authority. Question your government and question your military. That is the job of a journalist,” adding, “Who would question the Catholic Church? They were next to God. They control the political powers. So to question the Catholic Church was a real risk, but we did it.” Talking about recent film The Post, which is based on the true story of Pentagon Papers (US war in Vietnam) that were published in The Washington Post in 1971, he said, “It is great that movies with big stars are being made about media. It helps to draw big audiences and question the conscience.”

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