Recent decades have seen massive changes in how the press works. These developments include the internet with the creation of websites and new forms of presentation, as well as accessories that make transmitting the news easier and faster. Yet these developments have also given the subjects of the journalists a new means to make their own announcements and so the relationship between Press and subjects is constantly changing.

From telegraph to tweets

Once news was transmitted by telegraph in short quick bursts which the editors then had to transform into proper articles.

Then came the telephone which allowed the journalist to dictate reports which then made their way into the newspapers. Now we have Twitter that allows public personalities to make their own announcements bypassing the journalists altogether to communicate directly with their contacts.

Tweets have become the means by which President #Donald Trump seeks to bypass the Press to make announcements and comments to the public, whether it be about policy issues, football games or even about newspapers such as the New York Times. These tweets have become the symbol not only of his public antagonism towards the Press but also the changes that technology had brought.

Fake news and fact checks

Journalists can now write their articles and publish them online with a speed that old time editors would never have dreamed.

On the other side new technology also makes it easier to create manipulated news services which can create confusion amongst journalists, politicians and even more so with the public.

Finally, there is another modern development that has been much underestimated, particularly by politicians and their spokespersons, the modern computer and information technology that now allows real time fact checking that can create embarrassing problems of credibility such as recently happened with White House Senior Advisor #Kellyanne Conway with the statement about a “Bowling Green Massacre” that had never happened.

While such comments may once have disappeared without a trace, modern technology has ensured that journalists and their subjects should be prepared for anything in their encounters. This may seem to have prepared the terrain for a more fertile relationship between the Press and politicians, but sadly the current ongoing battle between the Press Corps and the White House is proof that it also has the potential to destabilize the relationship if handled incorrectly.

Of tools and human beings

Yet for all the developments in technology, in the end the antagonists are still human beings and subject to their individual foibles. Technology only provides the tools; it is up to each individual how he or she uses or mishandles these tools.

Then, as has always happened, journalists report if their subjects have used their tools correctly and the subjects of the reports then have to face the consequences for their actions. Journalists are responsible for their reports, but the politicians and the other subjects must also know that when all is said and done the Press writes about what they said and did and so must look at their own behaviour before blaming the Press for any bad coverage.

An old saying says that a bad carpenter always blames his tools and this applies just as well to journalists and politicians.