D.C. Event and Reception at Newseum
This event occurred on Monday, May 7
A crowd of J-Schoolers, other Columbia alumni and election watchers gathered at Washington D.C.’s Newseum Monday evening to mark the school’s centennial and hear Tom Brokaw and a panel of journalistic luminaries discuss the 2012 presidential election. The panel consisted of three distinguished journalism alumni: Howard Fineman ’73, Editorial Director of the Huffington Post Media Group; Mara Liasson ’89, National Political Correspondent for NPR; and Matt Bai ’94, Chief Political Correspondent of The New York Times Magazine.
In the Newseum’s Annenberg Theater, University President Lee Bollinger kicked off the evening by talking about the importance of the Journalism School to the Columbia University community. Then, Dean Nicholas Lemann talked about the school’s centennial and contribution to the profession before introducing the moderator and panel. Brokaw, best known for his work at NBC News and books including “The Greatest Generation,” moderated a wide-ranging conversation on various aspects of journalists’ roles in the presidential election.
Mara Liasson suggested that, in today’s teeming news environment, one of the great challenges for a consumer of news is to determine what is worth reading, especially with the “tsunami of opinion” now readily accessible online. Matt Bai argued that the press should work on covering the big picture of money in politics over periods of years, asserting that current coverage often fails to give consumers a broad understanding of the issue.
Howard Fineman said that the press needs to explore the growing gaps in America between ordinary people and elite institutions, suggesting that there is a crisis of faith in government and the press as significant as Watergate nearly forty years ago. Tom Brokaw ended the discussion by reminding the audience that consuming the news is not enough, and that citizens must also be involved in the political process.
With the discussion concluded, guests and the panel proceeded to the Great Hall of the Newseum for refreshments and spirited conversation.