Excited to share this podcast episode where I talk about everything I love in my career: product development, science, biomimicry, the arts, writing, my book, storytelling, technology, and the power of our imagination coupled with curiosity. Thank you to host N.B., and to Carolyn Kiel for recommending me! You can listen at this link (www.crosspollination.co) and wherever you get your podcast feeds!
Thank you to everyone who shared their story so that others with stories could be free to tell them. Because of you, people are being held accountable for their actions. Our fight to be heard and believed isn’t over. We have many more miles and years to travel together to find true equality and equity for all, and no one can deny that we’re on our way.
“The viability of news organizations today rests in their ability to make themselves relevant by providing news that improves people’s lives.” ~Bob Schieffer
The Newseum’s event “The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days” attempted to open the dialogue on the present and future of the press in politics. At times contentious and at other times collegial, all of the conversations were open and honest. And this idea was clear: journalists are determined to uncover the truth in every facet of their work and they won’t rest until they do. Their commitment and passion, often at their own personal expense, is inspiring. This isn’t a job; it’s a calling no matter where a journalist sits on the ideological spectrum. This is sacred work and it deserves respect.
The state of news today
And that said, the criticism often leveled at the press must be listened to and acted upon. Feedback, whether or not we agree with it, is a gift because it allows us to figure out what matters to us. 21% of Americans have little or no faith in media. That is a massive number. We think more highly of nearly every other profession.
And it shows in the sales numbers. In the past ten years, we’ve lost 126 newspapers in this country. Today many remaining ones are thinner than our water bill now. “If we don’t fix this,” said Bob, “we will see unprecedented corruption across society. It’s the great crisis of journalism today.”
So how do we fix it? What do we do? What do we stop doing?
And I go back to Bob Schieffer. He’s been a journalist for 60 years. And in his long history in the only profession he’s ever had, he sees the answer as not only relevance but in impact. The news must make people’s lives better.
How do we do that? I think we need to get more trained reporters on the ground in more communities uncovering the facts, listening to people, and telling a greater array of stories. I appreciate data, but I appreciate the narrative the data reveals even more. As a society, we’ve become analytical to the point of sacrificing our humanity. We’ve been so busy assigning labels to ourselves and to others that we’ve actually forgotten to walk in their shoes.
Does more data make us wiser or overwhelmed?
In his closing address, Bob Schieffer went on to share a few quotes that had a powerful impact on me.
“We have started thinking in statistics and analytics,” said Peter Hart, NBC/WSJ Pollster. “That’s doesn’t work. [Polls] don’t tell you what’s in people’s hearts.” That’s quite a claim from a man who makes his living in statistics, but we can’t deny its truth. Our latest presidential campaign revealed that a significant number of voters, though not the majority, had more faith in Donald Trump than the polls ever thought possible.
“We look on polling data as higher truth,” wrote Jill Lepore, Pulitzer Prize winning historian at Harvard and staff writer for The New Yorker. “Too many times we are replacing beat reporting with polling data. Publications don’t send reporters to PTA meetings or local bars anymore, to talk to people. They can no longer afford it and there aren’t enough reporters to do the job.”
The evolving role of social media in news today
Many of the conversations at the Newseum focused on the integral role of social media and the press. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold credits his Twitter following with helping him win the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Trump’s charitable contribution claims. Facebook is now the number one source where we access and share news. CBS now has a 24/7 streaming news network, and during the election it often had more engagement than hallmark programs such as the CBS Evening News. Dan Rather’s News and Guts is another fantastic example of new channels for news.
“Hillary Clinton challenged norms [of what a woman should be.] And the hatred that has hung around her for that is irrational.” I put that quote from former Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri on Twitter and it drew immediate attention for and against Hillary, much of it very intense, and that level of response sums up the key insight I got while at this event. The news, in every channel, has become more a point of connection for people and less a vehicle to change hearts and minds. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a fact.
The Buddha said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Nowhere is this more true than in journalism. Martin Luther called the printing press “God’s highest act of grace.” That was in 1436. It took centuries for society to make full use of his invention. It may be many more years before we realize the full extent of the power that we now have in all of our current communication channels and the many more that are to come. Equilibrium, as Bob said, is going to take some time. But we’ll get there.
The gift of the First Amendment
As I walked home from the Newseum, I kept thinking how lucky we are to have our First Amendment. While we may fight vehemently and against one another for our beliefs, the fact that we can do so is a priceless gift. The freedoms of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and complaining to / seeking the assistance of government are the lifeblood of our society. They must be protected by all of us, not just those in elected office. And if anyone, our elected officials included, attempts to take those rights from others, it is our collective responsibility to fight that injustice. The press fights for us every day, and we must fight for the press.
The job of every journalist, and every citizen, is to ask questions, and keep asking until we get an answer. A deep and unabiding ability to question everything and everyone is the foundation of our society. We cannot silence ourselves or others, and we cannot allow anyone else to do so. Nevertheless, we must persist.
More Newseum programming
The Newseum is offering a year-long program about the relationship between the Trump White House and the press. Many of the events will be available on live stream. You can learn more by visiting http://www.newseum.org/.
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I had the most amazing day today at the Newseum’s #TrumpandthePress event. I expected the event to be incredible, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. I feel curious, hopeful, and abundantly motivated by everything I learned. My head is swimming with ideas about media, journalism, and my own personal writing journey. I’m letting all of it turn over in my mind for a bit and promise to post my thoughts on Friday to round out the week.
I’m honored and thrilled to be invited to a fascinating discussion today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. entitled The President and the Press: The First Amendment in the First 100 Days. And it’s going to be a doozy. I’m anticipating a rousing, spirited discussion about the media, democracy, and the current administration. The agenda and speaker lineup is among the most diverse I’ve seen on the subject and I have to commend the Newseum staff for bringing so many disparate views to one venue. It’s an incredible feat. I’ll be live tweeting and will share what I learn in tomorrow’s post. You can also watch the live stream at http://www.newseum.org/live/.
From the Newseum event page:
The Newseum will host a half-day forum that will explore the Trump administration’s relationship with the press in the critical first months. The program will be held at the Newseum and will feature one-on-one conversations, panel discussions and individual presentations. Participants, including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, will explore pertinent challenges to the First Amendment, a free press and protecting the free flow of information in a divided nation.
Buried deep in the Business & Finance sections of media channels, there are some leading economic indicators that we all need to watch. I have to admit that I’m getting very nervous. I’m beginning to feel like it’s 2007 so I’m making plans with my money. You’ll find a mini-action plan at the bottom of this post. I hope it helps. Please feel free to share this post with anyone whom you think would be interested. I don’t have a crystal ball. This is just what I’m seeing, reading, hearing, thinking, and doing. I put links below for you to reference:
Look, I have no desire to relive those frightening years of 2008 – 2012. They were awful. But please understand that in the case of global economics, there is very little that ordinary individuals like you and I can do to impact this outcome. This is an issue that is truly in the hands of fiscal policy makers and elected officials. Trump’s volatility and foreign policy decisions will move markets. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is. So here’s what I’m doing to protect myself:
I wish this were a sunnier post. I wish like hell that I had great news for you when it comes to the economy. But listen, knowledge is power and protection. I would be delighted to be completely wrong about all of this though I’m of the belief that it’s better to have a plan you never need rather than needing a plan you never have.
And if you need help, please let me know. I am not a finance expert by any means so please don’t take this advice as such. I do read a copious amount of information on a daily basis in dozens of channels. I try to stay as informed as possible on a wide variety of subjects. As I learn and understand more, I will of course share it. Together, watching out for one another, we are stronger and more resilient. If last week is any indication, we’re in for quite a ride for at least the next 18 months until the midterm elections. At least we’re all in the same boat. Now let’s row in the same direction.
If you want to get deep into the discussion around race in America and approach it from a number of different perspectives, I can’t recommend the latest issue of Smithsonian Magazine enough. I’m completely engrossed in every story. It’s an incredible example of journalism that combines a long lens historical perspective, evocative personal stories of struggle and triumph (in equal amounts), and a future vision of hope that we can fully accept and explore our past and not be solely defined by it. Just amazing.
My new podcast has its social media pages set up. I’d love to have you follow along. As always, if you have ideas for guests who are either based in or visiting DC for a special project, please let me know.
Sharing a meal with someone—it’s one of the oldest traditions in the world. And that’s why it’s so important to me to have a home where I can host people for dinner and why I want to include sharing a meal in my podcast to get passionate conversations flowing.
My friend, Carolyn, sent me an article from PsyBlog entitled The Right Food Can Promote Trust And Closeness Between People about the value of eating the same food with another person. It brings us closer. It helps us to listen and attempt to understand one another, especially when dealing with issues that mean a lot to us. Meals are an act of communion and community. Meals together matter, and I’m excited to begin orchestrating them on my new podcast that will be appropriately named Breaking Bread.
Would you like to be a guest on the show? Know someone who would be a good guest? Let’s gather around the table and see (and hear) what happens.
Last week, I went to an event about mixed-, virtual-, and augmented-reality at DC’s Newseum. My dear friend, F.J., told me about it and being the technology fiends that we are, we went over there together with our friend, Anisha. We tried on some new gear to get a sense of what’s happening in this new and rapidly emerging field. I drove down the streets of Cuba, Anisha took a flight with the Blue Angels, and F.J. explored a shipwreck. The degrees of quality varied, but the fun of seeing the future was equally palpable in all of it. We then sat together to hear a talented panel of journalists and media makers talk about how these technologies are altering the very real world of human experience in a broad sense, and the field of journalism and storytelling more specifically.