Trolls don't stand a chance against Colorado's Kyle Clark
Listed as Buzzfeed’s 4th most attractive news anchor in the world and 1st snarkiest to anyone who pays attention to him, Kyle Clark is in a category of local reporters all his own. Just in the past few years, he’s gone viral a handful of times with off-the-cuff rants about his hatred of snow-covered furniture and dogs being left in hot cars — and of course how much he does or doesn’t despise his coworker Kathy Sabine. (The Internet hasn’t quite figured that one out yet.)
Speaking to us via phone during a late May snowstorm, the host of Next with Kyle Clark insists he’s not out to condemn anyone taking snapshots of their patio at the moment, instead taking the time to deliver sage advice on how to select viable news sources in a tumultuous era and what exactly anchors should do with all those trolls.
If there is any hope left for local journalism in America, Clark is it.
What’s your overall take on the media right now?
"It’s certainly an interesting time to work in journalism. There’s a huge appetite for information across all age groups, all demographics, and all walks of life. The challenge for those of us who work in media is just … how do we come up with a sustainable model to feed that appetite? We’ve never been more plugged in, more hungry for information — it’s just a matter of figuring out what models will work.
What has 9News done to fight against the sour reputation of media?
Over the years now, we’ve had a digital first strategy, where we no longer hold things for TV — even just 5, 10 years ago, you’d sit on a scoop waiting to drop it on television. That doesn’t happen now. You report information as you learn it. In the platform, we’re also trying to come up with more relevant and timely TV programs, which is what we do with Next; we step away from the model of everything is breaking news, everything is against the world, everything is happening right at this very moment. How do we put together a program that you can watch an hour later, or six hours later, and it still has value. Informational value, entertainment value. We’re no longer a slave to this, ‘right this second, right this second’ thing.
When you get a story, what do you do to ensure it’s not just another lame Internet hoax?
The first layer is always the BS detector. Does it smell like BS? Now, there a lot of phenomenal stories that seem like BS, but it’s that skepticism that keeps you from getting ahead of things. More than ever, our fact-check function is so desperately needed because we know people are out there that, one, don’t care if what they’re putting out is untrue, and two, are intentionally doing it.
There is so much intentional deception now. I hate the term ‘fake news,’ it’s been completely co-opted by the president and his allies, but you have to give him props because it’s really masterful how they turned the phrase — which should be an alert to any thinking American that this is destructive to our democracy — and turned it into something.
How can readers/viewers tweak their BS detectors to find honesty?
People must be willing to read, watch and listen to things that tell them something they don’t like. If they are only hearing perspectives that reinforce their own point of view, then they’re not getting a balanced media diet. I encourage people to find smart, thoughtful curators of information in the community that they know are gonna provide them with some balanced perspectives, then follow those people, read those people, watch those people, listen to those people. Sometimes you’re cheering, sometimes you’re booing. But that’s the way the world works, it’s not always black and white.
... and it helps to read more than just the headline, yes?
It does! [laughs] And some people say don’t’ read the comments, I love comments. The comments are the interaction. The comments are the opportunity for people to call us out when we don’t do a good job. But then also, there are the trolls that want to say something that’s not true knowing people will read it and get their reactions — but I believe those people need to be called out.
You call them out often on your social media accounts …
I’ve long had the philosophy that I should try and respond to as many people as possible; I’m a local journalist people should expect that they can get in touch with me and have a conversation. These days, the volume is such that there’s no way to respond to everyone, but if someone comes at me in an abrasive way or challenging way, it doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of a response. Interacting with people is always (an opportunity), either you’re learning something or you’re broadening your perspective or just having a laugh at how unhinged somebody’s reaction is.
We had no idea people were so passionate about your tie selections.
Anytime somebody wants to get angry about what I was wearing or whether I squinted my eyes when I said something, they’re watching and listening, and hopefully they’re broadening their perspectives and hearing diverse voices. It’s a little encouraging if the only thing they comment on is my tone of voice or lack of tie — at least they’re engaged in the conversation.
Yeah, it could be worse.
Right, they could not be watching. [laughs]
To end, do you think the Internet has been a good thing or bad thing for society?
I think it is the greatest and the worst thing that has ever happened. I don’t think there’s any stopping it, the only question is how do we manage it. I do think there are seeds being sown of kindness and empathy in reaction to the negativity to the culture, we’ll see if that takes root in some way. Everything is a reaction to what’s come before. Society has an auto-correcting function, if we swing too far in one direction, I think there will be a positive correction.
Either that or the robots take over, you know?"