When asked to talk a bit about the thought process that goes on behind closed doors at some of the nation’s most elite media organizations, CBS 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager ’77 summed it all up in a single sentence: “We try to shed light in dark places.”
While the public may have an idea of what goes on behind closed doors when media companies decide what stories they will, or won’t tell, an industry panel of media luminaries explained to a crowd in Olin Hall last week that there is much deliberation, and a clear separation between the business and editorial departments.
“In the newsroom we think nothing about money. We don’t have a lot of it, and that’s OK,” said Howard Fineman ’70, global editorial director, AOL Huffington Post Media Group.
Moderated by Colgate’s Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science Tim Byrnes, the Media and Communications in the 21st Century panel, part of a series of events that led up to the inauguration of President Brian W. Casey, included Goldie Blumenstyk ’79, senior writer and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education; Amanda Terkel ‘04, political reporter, politics managing editor at The Huffington post; and Alicia Simmons, Colgate assistant professor of sociology.
Discussion ranged from contentious coverage of the presidential election and the divisive nature of the candidates, the collapse of small-town newspapers, coverage of racial injustice and related protests around the country, objectivity, and the increasingly siloed nature of news.
“As we think about the echo chamber and partisan exposure to the news, the Internet is just exacerbating that,” said Simmons, referencing the ability for anyone to only tune into information with which they believe.
Fineman remarked on the impressive number of Colgate students working in the media today. “I think Colgate people are natural communicators,” Fineman said. “You can’t hide in the corner. People here, if they don’t come as natural communicators, they end up that way.”