Making journalism great again

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Newhouse alumni and other media professionals shared their observations of the current media environment with SU students, alumni and friends at a special “Making Journalism Great Again” event at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on November 29, 2017.

Moderator Joel Kaplan at event

Newhouse School Associate Dean and Professor Joel Kaplan acted as moderator for the panel, which included Semma Mehta ’98, political writer for the Los Angeles Times; Andrew Siciliano ‘96, sports TV anchor/broadcaster; Cheryl Gould, journalist and board activist with the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Ina Fried, chief technology correspondent at Axios. 

With politics and the press at the center of the discussion, the group examined the changes social media and the Internet have brought to the journalistic landscape.

“No one at Facebook thought they, as an institution, were shaping opinion,” said Fried, a specialist in tech news and the mobile industry. “Until recently, people doing journalism were separate from people making money from journalism. Now it’s a monumental task to fact-check the world's information stream.”

Gould, a four-decade veteran of NBC News, said that coverage of the 2016 campaign brought this into sharper focus. “Before the election, the media weren’t looking at the Internet, they weren’t reading what the people were reading,” she said. "It is vital that we teach media literacy and civic engagement to our high school students. It’s shocking how few people know how our government works, but we need to show them how to ferret out and tell the truth,” Gould said.

The Internet and social media have accelerated the speed with which people expect to receive their news, resulting in an enormous impact on the practice of journalism. “There’s so much more demand for content, updating and blogging, and so much is going on so fast, with little time for context,” said Mehta, a Newhouse alumnus who covered the 2016, 2012 and 2008 presidential campaigns.

Complicating matters, people have now come to expect that all content should be free. The panel agreed that while the financial model of the media business continues to weaken, the paradigm needs to evolve. “Younger people are used to getting everything free on their phones, and doing things like sharing Netflix passwords to avoid subscription costs,” said Siciliano. "The older generation is used to paying for quality content, but we’ve got to get the younger generation to be willing to do the same.”

View the event photo gallery.