Meeting Three Journalism Pioneers: Koppel, Schieffer and Brokaw

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Me and Ted Koppel

Me and Ted Koppel

This week, I met Ted Koppel when he came to The Poynter Institute Monday night to talk about the state of the media. I live blogged Koppel’s talk for Poynter Online and then wrote a recap of what he had to say. One of the topics he talked about at length was social media and the extent to which anyone can use social networking sites to be a “reporter.”

Me and Bob Schieffer

Me and Bob Schieffer

“It is desperately important that everyone have the right to be a reporter, but I think we need to adapt to the new reality of the technology,” Koppel said. “The people who drafted the First Amendment … never imagined a time when every idiot who says, ‘Just bought some cauliflower at the Safeway’ and then tweets that considers that to be a form of journalism.”

I’m a big Twitter advocate, and I think that it can serve a journalistic purpose, but I nonetheless agree with Koppel’s notion that just because you can produce news on Twitter doesn’t mean that what you’re producing is quality journalism. But who says it needs to be?

Koppel, in talking about social media, acknowledged the importance and growth of online journalism and shared his thoughts on the future of print media: “Is there any way that newspapers are going to be able to afford to keep doing it the old fashioned way?” he asked. “I would be astonished if 20 years from now we still have a single paper newspaper. I think it’s all going to be electronic by then.”

Me and Tom Brokaw

Me and Tom Brokaw

In addition to meeting Koppel and hearing him talk about such issues, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a few other major nightly news hosts, namely Bob Schieffer last year in Dallas and Tom Brokaw at my alma mater four years ago.

(I covered Schieffer’s talk at a bookstore for The Dallas Morning News, and I wrote about Brokaw’s graduation speech for my college newspaper during my sophomore year.)

Now I have to meet some of the female nightly news broadcasters — Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer.

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