WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Truth Sandwich

Mar 3, 2020

Media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote in the Washington Post that President Donald Trump's propensity for lies and falsehoods could prove dangerous as the coronavirus threatens to turn into a full-blown pandemic. She shared an idea from linguist George Lakoff on how reporters might want to cover the president, especially on the coronavirus issue.

Sullivan said Lakoff suggested that rather than lead with Trump’s falsehood and then try to debunk it, reporters should lead with the truth, air the falsehood, and then follow with the fact check.

This approach has become known as the “truth sandwich.”

Sullivan said the idea is for the news media to avoid repeating and amplifying Trump’s misleading spin — a spin that might serve his political interests but is not in the public interest.

The Shop Talk panelists believe this might be a good approach with the current administration, which is willing to say just about anything.

Shop Talk is a weekly panel discussion about journalism issues.  This week’s program featured Will Buss, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University and advises the student editors at the Western Courier, the students at student radio station The Dog, and the WIU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists; Rajvee Subramanian, who teaches in the Department of Broadcasting and Journalism at Western Illinois University; and TSPR News Director Rich Egger.

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