We arguably live in a golden age for news media. Technology has enabled unprecedented access to information. Americans are consuming more news than ever from myriad sources. And as the recent uprisings in the Middle East have dramatized so powerfully, social media have not only opened new channels and driven increased consumption, they've enabled consumers to become creators, citizens to become journalists.
And yet, amid this great democratic flowering of news and access, there are lingering and disturbing doubts about the vitality of the fourth estate. In today’s competitive digital media environment, are the news media fulfilling their obligation to be responsible mediators of information and public discourse?
The Paley Center's Media Council has convened prominent journalists from print, broadcast, and digital media; news executives; public officials; journalism entrepreneurs; and media experts to explore this issue in a constructive dialogue.
Floyd Abrams is a member of the Firm's Executive Committee and its litigation practice group.
Rafat Ali is the CEO and founder of Skift, which is an early-stage travel intelligence startup that offers news, insight, advice, tools, and services to the travel industry and business travellers. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of paidContent and ContentNext, which he sold to the UK's Guardian News and Media in 2008, and left in 2010. Prior to that, he was managing editor of Silicon Alley Reporter. Ali was the Knight Fellow at Indiana University, where he completed his masters in Journalism, from 1999-2000. Prior to that he completed his BSc in Computer Engineering, from AMU in Aligarh, India.
John Avlon's new book Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America is available now by Beast Books both on the Web and in paperback. He is also the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and a CNN contributor. Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
Don Baer is worldwide vice chairman and chief strategy officer of the strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller, chairman of research firm Penn Schoen Berland, and founder and chairman of Palisades Media Ventures, a public affairs and news media development company. The firms are part of WPP, Inc. Baer has also been a top executive at global media company Discovery Communications, the White House communications director and chief speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, a journalist at US News & World Report, and a practicing lawyer. He is on the boards of PBS, the Urban Institute, and the News Literacy Project.
Merrill Brown is Principal at MMB Media LLC.
Brooke Gladstone is an American journalist and media analyst. She is host and managing editor of the National Public Radio newsmagazine, On the Media, and has been a contributor to The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Observer, and Slate. Gladstone lectures at universities and conferences and has appeared on PBS's Bill Moyers Journal and CNN's Reliable Sources (and once filled in for Charlie Rose on PBS's Charlie Rose Show.) She is widely quoted as an expert on press trends.
One of America’s most respected political analysts, Jeff Greenfield has spent more than 30 years on network television, including CNN, ABC News, CBS and currently serves as an anchor on PBS’ Need to Know. He is a four-time Emmy Award-winner and columnist for Yahoo! News. Greenfield has served as anchor booth analyst or floor reporter for every national political convention since 1988 and reported on virtually every important domestic political story in recent decades. Greenfield has authored or co-authored 12 books, including his 2011 bestseller, Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics—JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan, in which he looks at American political history "through a fictional looking glass." Other of his books include The People’s Choice, The Real Campaign, and Oh, Waiter! One Order of Crow!, an insider account of the contested 2000 presidential election.
Andrew Heyward is a former President of CBS News, serving from January 1996 until early November 2005. Currently, he is a Senior Advisor to Marketspace LLC, Monitor Group's digital media practice, where he works with clients to create and strengthen original online content, make more effective use of broadband video, deepen engagement through online communities, and develop new business models for the digital era.
John Hockenberry is an award-winning journalist with twenty-five years experience in radio, broadcast television and print. He is the host of WNYC and PRI’s The Takeaway, a correspondent for PBS Frontline, and a noted presenter and moderator at conferences such at TED, Aspen Ideas, and the World Science Festival.
Jeff is the author of Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live and What Would Google Do? He directs the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Jeff was founding editor of Entertainment Weekly magazine, TV critic for TV Guide and People magazines, Sunday editor and associate publisher of the New York Daily News, and a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.
Susan Robinson King
Susan Robinson King is vice president, external affairs, director of Journalism Initiative, Special initiatives and Strategy. She is responsible for the Corporation's relations with outside groups and devising strategies to ensure the Corporation's work has an impact on society. She oversees the Corporation's communications including its publications, web site and media and dissemination grant program. She leads the Corporation's Journalism Initiative, begun in 2005, which focuses on university based journalism education, its role in America's research universities, in preparing the next generation of media leaders and its commitment to strengthening journalism's seminal position in a democratic society. She spent twenty years as a journalist covering national and international issues and before joining the foundation served as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Labor.
Founder, host, and CEO of Techonomy, David Kirkpatrick is a journalist, commentator about technology, and author of the bestselling book “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World,” published in 32 countries. He spent 25 years at Fortune, and founded and hosted its Brainstorm and Brainstorm Tech conferences. In addition to writing for Techonomy, he contributes to Forbes and Vanity Fair. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Josh Marshall is the publisher of Talking Points Memo, TPMmuckraker, TPM Election Central and TPMCafe. He also writes a weekly column for the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill.
His articles on politics and foreign affairs have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers across the United States as well as abroad, including the American Prospect, the Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, , the New Republic, the New Yorker, the New York Post, the New York Times, Salon, and Slate.
Marshall graduated from Princeton in 1991 and holds a doctorate in American history from Brown.
He lives in New York City with his wife Millet, their son Sam, and their dog Simon.
Peter Osnos is the Founder and Editor-at-Large of PublicAffairs books. Previously, he was Publisher of Random House's Times Books Division from 1991 to 1996 and before that was a Vice President and Associate Publisher of the Random House imprint. Authors he has worked with include President Bill Clinton, former President Jimmy Carter, Rosalyn Carter, Nancy Reagan, former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Boris Yeltsin, Paul Volcker, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Donald Trump, Clark Clifford, Sam Donaldson, Morley Safer, Peggy Noonan, Molly Ivins, Stanley Karnow, Jim Lehrer, William Novak, Vassily Aksyonov, and journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and The Economist.
Before entering book publishing, Osnos spent nearly twenty years at The Washington Post, where he was variously Indochina Bureau Chief, Moscow Correspondent, Foreign Editor, National Editor, and London Bureau Chief. He has been a commentator and host for National Public Radio and a contributor to publications including Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. He served as Chair of the Trade Division of the Association of American Publishers, Chair of Human Rights Watch Europe and Central Asia Committee and was a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch. He is currently the Vice-Chairman of The Columbia Journalism Review and Executive Director of The Caravan Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and based at TCF. A graduate of Brandeis University and the Columbia University School of Journalism, he lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife, Susan Osnos, who is a consultant for nonprofit organizations.
Andrew Rasiej is a social entrepreneur, futurist, and the founder of Personal Democracy Forum, an annual conference and community website focusing on and promoting the intersection of politics and technology.
He is also the co-founder of techPresident, an award winning group blog that covers how the 2008 Presidential candidates are using the web, and how voter generated content (a term he coined) is affecting the campaign.
In the 2004 Presidential race he served as Chairman of the Howard Dean Technology Advisory Council. In 2005 he ran a highly visible campaign for Public Advocate of New York City, running in the Democratic primary on a platform to bring low cost wireless internet access to all New Yorkers.
He writes a bi-weekly column for www.politico.com and he appears as an expert on the Internet and politics on major media channels including CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, FOX, BBC and SKY News.
J. Max Robins
J. Max Robins is the vice president and executive director of The Paley Center for Media's Industry Programs. Robins joined the Paley Center from Broadcasting & Cable magazine, where he was editor-in-chief. Before B&C, he was an editor and columnist at TV Guide and Variety.
Ben Smith wrote a blog about national politics for POLITICO. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he covered the Democratic primary.
Before joining POLITICO, he was a political columnist for the New York Daily News and in 2005 and 2006 started three of New York City's leading political blogs, The Politicker, The Daily Politics and Room Eight, for which he still writes occasionally about the New York scene.
Smith moved to BuzzFeed in late December of 2011.
Sree Sreenivasan is the Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a technology journalist based in New York City. He has also served as an academic administrator and professor in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the overall chief digital officer of Columbia University.
Greta Van Susteren
Greta Van Susteren joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in January 2002 as the host of the primetime news and interview program, "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren," which launched in February 2002. "On the Record" is the highest rated cable news program in the 10 p.m. timeslot.
Prior to joining FNC, Van Susteren served as host of CNN's primetime news and analysis show, "The Point with Greta Van Susteren." She also co-hosted the network's daily legal program, "Burden of Proof." Van Susteren joined CNN in 1991 as a legal analyst and, during her tenure with the network, contributed analysis to high-profile cases including the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials and the Elian Gonzalez custody battle. She also played an integral role in the legal analysis of CNN's coverage of Election 2000, for which she earned the American Bar Association's Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism.
Van Susteren has represented various clients in civil and criminal cases during her career as a trial attorney. In addition to arguing cases in federal appellate courts and state supreme courts, she is the author of a chapter on witness and client representation in "Federal Enforcement 1992: Defense Strategies for Winning White Collar Trial."
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Van Susteren received a bachelor's degree with distinction in economics. She earned a Juris Doctor from Georgetown Law in 1979 and a Master of Law from the school in 1982. Van Susteren was the first Stuart Stiller Fellow at Georgetown Law Center and was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Stetson Law School. She served as an adjunct professor at the Law Center from 1984 through 1999.
Alexandra Wallace was named senior vice president of "NBC News" in December 2008. In what is an expanded version of the role that she held from January 2006 until March 2007 when she became executive producer of "Nightly News," Wallace's responsibilities include overseeing "Nightly News," news production and staffing. She assists in the oversight of newsgathering, and serves as Capus' chief deputy within the news division.
On The Record's Greta Van Susteren argues that placing celebrities center stage allows news outlets to support hard-hitting journalists.
"The Today Show puts Charlie Sheen on, which drives up the numbers, so you can make money, so that we can support to send journalists over to war, " says Van Susteren, "Everybody will tune in for Charlie Sheen and they're going to stick around then for the report on Tunisia."
David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, asserts that the Facebook News Feed is a new form of journalism. Quoting founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Kirkpatrick says, "A squirrel dying in front of your house sometimes matters more to you than people starving in Africa."
Personal Democracy Forum founder Andrew Rasiej argues that people using new media tools like Facebook and Twitter "just think differently." Rasiej says, "They have a visceral understanding of lateral connections to each other and they do not really care about hierarchy."
Fascinating, very revealing.
The moderator squarely pointed out that trust in the press is falling hard.
Most of the panelists (not all)made excuses:
One implied people don't know what the press is, and therefore the blame is misplaced.
One said that distrust indicates engagement with the journalism (and poor performance by the media),
Another says trust in all institutions is declining, so why are we different,
Still another made the arrogant interpretation that people are unhappy with the press when the reporting is best, therefore the public's opinion is not to be taken seriously.
John Avlon backed up that point saying people don't even trust CSPAN, implying that therefore people's mistrust is misplaced.
Another says the celebrity coverage taints serious journalism.
For the most part the journalists swerved hard to dodge the obvious issue. The answer (which the moderator pointed out at the beginning) is pervasive media bias - overreporting stories that reinforce the journalists preconceptions, and underreporting or negatively reporting stories that undermine the press' almost monochromatic viewpoint.
Jeff hit the nail on the head, the public is "...not people who dress in suits and come to roundtables like this. It ain't us. The public is not us. The public is somebody we don't know." And more to the point;
"It is media's role not to lead the conversation but to reflect that conversation."
My applause goes to Jeff. And Greta - she took some abuse from other panel members, presumably because they disapprove of her station's intellectual diversity.
Sorry Gretta, the Charlie Sheen thing is a turn off - this kind of thing makes me "tune out". It's one of the reasons I gave up cable and sat. Give me real news, not drivel. And if I were an advertiser, I would be pretty disgusted with the drivel my money was paying for.
trying to get in on the Charlie Sheen thing eh?, don't bother! it seems so unlikely that you'll ever get anyone hipper than we are spending much time on this site and really we aren't very hip at all in the scheme of things so don't bother! p.s. congratulations on being the latest, though not the first, people to cruelly misrepresent his recent comments and make frivolous assumptions about his lifestyle and state of mind--out of fear and jealousy and frustratedness, certis. in other respects this was as always an interesting programme. why not promote it with some more substantial clip? for example the bit where a woman was eating her lunch, we certainly wondered what it was for about two seconds...serious philosophy, you see. not froth. best wishes