By Eric Geller
Five journalists whose careers began in the pages of the Collegian returned to the Hill on Saturday, April 5 and shared their thoughts on media ethics, the role of the press and the breakneck pace of the modern news cycle.
The panel in Hayes Hall, which was part of a larger Collegian alumni conference with sessions for current staff members, included Paul Singer ’88.5, politics editor at USA Today; Renee Peck ’75, the founder of the New Orleans-focused website NolaVie.com; Erin Mershon ’12, a technology reporter for POLITICO Pro; Willow Belden ’07, reporter and anchor at Wyoming Public Radio; and Robbie Ketcham ’04, a former copy editor and designer.
The discussion, moderated by Collegian Editors-in-Chief David McCabe ’14 and Lauren Toole ’14, touched on the financial constraints that news organizations face and the resulting desire to cover viral stories –– and to cover them quickly. “There is an evolving sense of when a story is ripe to publish,” Singer said at the panel.
Ketcham stressed that journalists should strive to educate people even if they were only visiting a website to learn about Justin Bieber or another trending topic, while Belden argued the goal of journalism was to “make stories that aren’t already sexy, sexy.” The panelists agreed the primary responsibility of a journalist remained the same even amid all the changes happening in modern journalism.
“Newspapers don’t tell you what to think,” Ketcham said. “They tell you what to think about.”