The Front Page: Really? A whole page?

It’s Friday, November 20th.

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This issue is by Holly Piepenburg, Gabe Schneider, Chelsea Cirruzzo, and Janelle Salanga, with editing by Curtis Yee.

After “reckoning with racism,” the L.A. Times’ ed board dedicates an entire page to Trump voters

We need to understand Trump voters—at least according to the L.A. TimesNov. 14 editorial page

In the editorial pages of the paper, which endorsed Biden, eleven Trump voters shared the reasons they voted for him: They wrote about benefiting from the economy under Trump, shared values at odds with “unreasonable positions” like open borders, and “the left” failing to understand their beliefs.

But Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spearheaded the 1619 Project in The New York Times, rightfully asked: “Why not any other group of voters?”

It’s important to understand why one group of people chooses one presidential candidate over another, but the rationale of Trump supporters has been extensively covered even before this year’s election, even in the L. A. Times itself. The Times held space for reactions to Trump’s election in 2016. While Biden cobbled together a different coalition than Clinton, the Times covered Clinton and Trump voters’ perceptions of each other. And it covered California Republicans’ reactions to Trump’s 2016 win. 

Paul Thornton, Letters Editor for the Times, called the page “an attempt to facilitate communication between the two sides of our profoundly polarized nation.”

While the decision may have been intended to promote mutual understanding, it created a backlash, instead implying that Trump voters were the more important group to center post-election. Covering the beliefs of Trump supporters’ is different from allowing them free reign of the letters page of a major national newspaper.

And if mutual understanding was the goal, why was equal space not extended to Biden voters? Or socialists, non-voters, or libertarians? The Times could’ve done better elevating other voices: Trump voters who voted for Biden this election, queer folks, non-voters, Black women, the Navajo nation, low income Angelenos. We’ll see who they decide to give their letters page to next. 


Is Substack a content management system or a publishing platform? That’s one of the central questions in “The Substackerati,” a Columbia Journalism Review piece written by Clio Chang.

Chang asks: “Will Substack replicate the patterns of marginalization found across the media industry, or will it help people locked out of the dominant media sphere to flourish? To a large extent, the answer depends on whether or not Substack’s founders believe they’re in the publishing business.”

We don’t have a comprehensive answer. This newsletter is published on Substack, but we weren’t recruited to be here. And it’s not certain that we’ll be here forever. We started publishing on Substack, after a brief stint on Medium, because it was a convenient way to build our email list and understand who’s actually reading (that’s you). But that doesn’t mean we’ll be using the platform forever. 

For the most part, Substack has become a refuge for writers who refuse to confront their critics in a serious way. Last week, Matthew Yglesias, a cofounder of Vox, left a cushy full time job with benefits to write for Substack this month; disparaging his former coworker on the way out. Yglesias joins a cadre of Substack writers with massive profiles and massive egos, including Andrew Sullivan, who has ardently defended racist pseudoscience about IQ; and Glenn Greenwald, who, despite making $300,000+ per year at The Intercept, still seems entirely unaware of how much his former coworkers are (not) making.

Make no mistake, it’s not an ideology rooted in policy that links these media men: it’s the fact that they stubbornly believe all of their critics are wrong (especially when they’re right). And for that, they’ve been doomed to write paid newsletters.

They’re perfectly within their right to start newsletters and seek out an audience. But it’s also more than fair to criticize them for the amount of space they take up, especially when some of their former colleagues are contract workers without healthcare. Or, put a different way, just because they have a right to write thin criticism and complain constantly doesn’t mean they aren’t assholes for doing so.

After a year, CPJ Union secures a contract

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has its first union contract.

Though management voluntarily recognized the union in July 2019, it had been over a year since the CPJ Union, represented by Writers Guild of America, East, was able to hold a bargaining session. Prior to the stalemate, guild members asked the organization to “foster a more diverse, equitable, and sustainable workplace through increased salary minimums and fair across the board pay increases,” plus commit to clear health and retirement benefits in a contract.

On November 4, a petition signed by more than 600 Writers Guild of America, East members was presented to CPJ in another effort to highlight the demands. Less than two weeks later, members were back at the bargaining table. CPJ has not yet issued an official statement.

Writers Guild of America, East is also standing behind Gimlet, Parcast, and The Ringer unions as they demand that their parent company Spotify commit to “prompt and good-faith negotiations.” While Spotify recognizes the guilds, the company continues to post jobs that ignore union obligations. A Gimlet Union representative told Hot Pod News that a future contract would set a strong example for other organizations in the audio industry.

Who is The Objective

We usually use this section for a Q/A, but since we’ve been at this for a few months, we figured we’d pause and tell you a bit about who exactly runs The Objective. First and foremost: we are an all-volunteer collective, several of us with full-time jobs outside of this work. But we believe this kind of coverage is not an occasional way to cover journalism, but the focal point.

Even though we are a collective, we do have folks that lead up coverage. Here’s a quick list: 

  • Gabe Schneider [he/him] is the Lead Editor and Co-Founder at The Objective. He is a journalist based in Washington D.C. He is the Assistant Managing Editor for Votebeat and takes care of a very cute dog, Murphy. You can follow him @gabemschneider.

  • Marlee Baldridge [she/her] is the Administrative Director and Co-Founder at The Objective. She is a graduate student at the University of Missouri studying who makes the news (and in whose interest). Outside of school & work, she’s playing D&D, watching Star Trek, or playing games. You can follow her @MarleeWith2Es.

  • Janelle Salanga [they/she] is the Deputy Editor at The Objective. They are a fellow at CalMatters, a team lead with the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies and a current fourth-year at the University of California, Davis, studying the interplay between science, society and media. They’re also a big fan of cooking for other people and themselves to stave off the approaching-graduation dread. You can follow them @janelle_cpp.

  • Chelsea Cirruzzo [she/her]  is the social media manager at The Objective and a big Avatar: The Last Airbender fan. She is a health care reporter in Washington, D.C. She’s been published in DCist, Washington City Paper, The Washington Post, The Lily, Eater, and more. You can follow her at @chelseacirruzzo.

  • Holly Piepenburg [she/her] is the Newsletter Manager at The Objective. She is an outreach coordinator for the Pulitzer Center, and previously worked in broadcast television news. In her free time, she plays with her cat, Willa, and reads mystery novels. You can follow her @HollyPiepenburg.


What’s happening

*$$$ denotes a paid event

A bit more media

Wisconsin Public Radio tracks source diversity

WPR’s Source Demographic Survey, released in August, revealed an urgent need for diversity. Now, the station is sharing its methodology. Read more from Wisconsin Public Radio or the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

“She was incredibly angry at them”

In a profile of his co-worker Maggie Haberman, New York Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote that part of the White House correspondent’s former morning routine included yelling at her sources. Journalists have since questioned Haberman’s process and highlighted her privilege.

Quartz goes independent

More than six months after Quartz announced dozens of layoffs under the management of Uzabase, co-founder Zach Seward is making the site private. In his statement, Seward wrote that all staffers, including editor-in-chief Katherine Bell, will share equity. The new company will continue to recognize the Quartz Union, according to editorial staff members.

L.A. Times, Tribune Publishing settle pay dispute

Though both companies deny allegations of gender, race, and ethnic discrimination, $3 million will be paid to resolve the class-action lawsuit filed by “nearly 240 current and former reporters and editors.” Black, Latino, and female staffers employed by the Times during a five-year period could receive a portion of the settlement.

Celebrating Abby Phillip

During the excitement of Election Week (yes, it was a full week), CNN Political Correspondent Abby Phillip stood out. While other reporters and anchors pointed at maps and spoke at record speeds, Phillip notably slowed down, offering smart analysis that showcased her vast political knowledge. The New York Times’ profile of Phillip celebrates the poise, context and clarity she brought to that intense week. 

New Yorker fires Toobin

The New Yorker has fired reporter Jeffrey Toobin less than a month after VICEreported that Toobin had masturbated on a work call. Toobin, who had previously called the incident an “embarrassing stupid mistake,” said he will always love the magazine. 

NAJA demands apology from CNN

The Native American Journalist Association is demanding an apology after CNN used the phrase “something else” to describe voters who are not white, Latinx, Black or Asian on election night. “This type of language continues the efforts to erase Indigenous and other voters who don’t neatly fall into the race categories listed in the graphic,” the group wrote, asking for a public apology as well as the opportunity to meet with CNN leadership to discuss their coverage of Native communities. 

And finally, a few resources

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | StudyHall XYZ | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian America | NAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook

Thanks for reading. We’ll have more for you soon. 

Our stories are funded by readers like you. 

The Objective is a nonprofit newsroom holding journalism accountable for past and current systemic biases in reporting and newsroom practices. We are written by and for those underrepresented in journalism.

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