Friday, 17 October 2014 00:00

10th Annual Lewis B. O'Donnell Media Summit a Star-Studded Event

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Panelists prepare to begin their discussion in front of students and cameras at SUNY Oswego's ice arena for the 10th Lewis B. O'Donnell Media Summit on Oct. 16. Panelists prepare to begin their discussion in front of students and cameras at SUNY Oswego's ice arena for the 10th Lewis B. O'Donnell Media Summit on Oct. 16. Stephany Reyes photo

The Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit celebrated its 10th anniversary on Oct. 16 with a big bang this year, enlisting a star-studded panel at SUNY Oswego’s ice arena.

The panel included journalist and bestselling author Ken Auletta, award-winning journalist Charlie Rose, NBC’s “Today Show” weatherman and host Al Roker, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz and President and Chief Operating Officer of Mission Broadcasting Inc., Dennis Thatcher. 

Before the discussion began, SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley presented Charlie Rose with with the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. Rose humbly accepted the achievement, while fellow peer Roker live-tweeted a selfie as he watched Rose accept the honor. 

Rose then delivered a special speech for the audience, which mostly consisted of students. Rose pointed out the “value of having an education with a student body of 8,200” in an institution like SUNY Oswego. 

He also noted that 60 percent of the student body are females, a theme that was later touched upon in the discussion. 

The discussion then began, moderated by Auletta. It covered myriad aspects of the media: print journalism, social media, broadcasting and online journalism. 

“I love new media,” Schultz said. “But I love traditional journalism even more.” B0FtrcEIEAEhv0H

Schultz, a strong advocate for print journalism and the only female in the panel, has written for both the Washington Post and The New York Times. She won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, in which judges defined her as giving “a voice for the underdog and the underprivileged.” 

“I’m a big fan of copy editors,” she said, cheering on the traditional practice of copy-editing in print journalism. 

Although Schultz praised traditional print journalism, she acknowledged its potential demise and feared it will no longer exist in the future, a fear aspiring and current journalists face. 

“Newspaper is not a growth field, magazines are not a growth field,” Thatcher added to the discussion. “The big growth is the web.” 

B0F93OyCEAEX-RaAnd indeed, digital journalism is a booming field. 

For example, according to the article “America’s Shifting Statehouse Press,” research suggests that “the number of journalists at nontraditional outlets has grown and observers worry about the quality of coverage.”

Schultz brought up this point as well.

“I’m concerned on how journalists are pushed to publish first, correct second,” she said. 

With digital journalism on the rise, getting the “scoop” first and fact checking second has become the norm. Schultz lamented on the downfall of traditional journalism ethic, setting Washington, D.C. as a prime example. 

“I look at the complexity in Washington…we don’t have reporters who hold them accountable anymore,” she said, regarding politicians in Washington, D.C. 

With digital reporting on the rise, the panelists agreed getting information now is very easy.

“We have more tools at our disposal than ever before,” Rose said. “We have more means to spread that information than ever before.” B0GCcfdCQAADlTx

However, Roker warned not all information is reliable.

“I keep telling my kids, ‘Just because it’s on the web, doesn’t mean it’s true,” he said.

However, when it comes to the younger generation, Auletta pointed out that “More people are interested in Kim Kardashian than they are on what’s going on in Albany.” 

As the discussion progressed, Schultz pointed out women’s roles in the media. Although it may be tough for women to enter that field, Schultz offered words of encouragement.

“The minute they go after my age, my weight or my gender, I win…They have no argument of substance,” she said. 

And with that statement, many students took to Twitter to praise Schultz. 

More words of encouragement were offered up by Roker, who commented on how all aspiring journalists in college can prepare to work in the field. 

“If you’re a senior, this may be a little late,” he said. “You should be taking as many classes as possible for a broader education.” 

“Find out what it is you like the most,” Rose chimed in. “The earlier you know where your passion is, find a way to be around people who love to do that.”

“Get an internship,” Thatcher said. “And once you’re inside, touch as many people as you possibly can.” 

“There is no such thing as a small job,” Schultz added. “Talent rises to the top.” 

Students had an opportunity toward the end of the summit to ask questions to the panelists, who thoroughly, and jokingly, answered a few questions, including the potential rise of a popular app called Yik Yak and its use as a platform for journalism.

“I think it needs a new name,” Roker joked. 

And with that, the “yik yak” of the 10th Annual Lewis B. O’Donnell concluded as students rose for a standing ovation.

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