Media panel at Yale University

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At the Yale Reunion this weekend, I attended–thanks to a happy acquaintance with an ’82 Yalie–a media panel entitled “Meet the Press”. The panel consisted of four ’82 grads from Yale, featuring Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota Senator -D), Richard Greenberg (NBC), Maggie Jackson (Associated Press, writer freelance for NYT and Boston Globe) and Nancy Gibbs (Time Editor at Large).

A few excerpts that stirred me:

– Journalists have, in the age of internet, gone from exposer to exposed as feedback has become instantaneous online and, according to the topic, more or less virulent.

– Ms Gibbs stated that the level of “engagement” surrounding the US presidential elections is very high and early (the ‘campaign’ will now be over 650 days). There has never been so much fervor so early. Furthermore, there are many candidates with neither party’s front runner easy to identify. The prospects of the US elections seem to echo with the events in France’s elections, in which more than 85% of the electorate participated: 12 candidates at the first round, plenty of infighting, high involvement…. My question is whether the US media will help galvanize voter turnout, to turn engagement into the ultimate democratic transaction. For the “bastion” of democracy, US voter apathy is something of a black mark.

– Ms Jackson spoke about the lack of attention span (and its nefarious consequences) as being a result of heightened connectivity (blackberry hell). Because of the pervasiveness of new technologies, we have forgotten how to listen to one another. Her focus on attention span is certainly valid. What this topic leads to very quickly is the focus on superficial “sound bytes” and a general reduction in the level of content. Whether online or in news, Ms Jackson contends that there is a lack of depth in [news] analysis, compounded by a lowering of resources at news companies. The comment I make to that assertion is that some bloggers are very engaged and are prepared to write strong, in-depth articles, more so perhaps than some magazines’ or newspapers’ audience are apparently prepared to pay for. Still, the number of people ready and willing to read “in depth” blogger articles is probably few and far (literally) between. But as Mr Greenberg stated, if you look carefully enough, at least you will find it [in-depth news reporting] covered somewhere.

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