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Vaughn challenges media at conference

ROBERT HUDSON AND KRISTINA VISE

Truth. That was the heart of the message of Former CNN Headline News Anchor Lyn Vaughn, keynote speaker of the ninth annual Leadership Conference at Troy University.

“The only defense against lies is the truth,” said Vaughn, current host of Fulton Government Television in Fulton County, Ga.

“One of the things that being away from mainstream media has done is helped me to see and analyze from afar where it is,” Vaughn said. “It’s just a mess.”

Updates about the affairs of Sen. John Edwards and golfer Tiger Woods, Vaughn argued, are not news. “Peering into private lives serves no purpose,” she said.

Likewise, she said to be leery of media “experts,” like those who make political predictions about President Barack Obama and newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

“They were wrong about who was going to win the election,” Vaughn said, “So why are we listening to their predictions now?”

“That’s what news has become, punditry and analysis,” she said. “And quite frankly I am sick of it.”

Vaughn said reporting is about telling what happened on a given day, not telling the viewer or reader how they should feel. She also said news anchors should not try to predict the outcomes of elections.

“I happen to think that the Massachusetts senator is going to be a maverick. I think he‘s going to play by his own rules,” Vaughn said.

“But I wouldn’t report that. I wouldn’t get on television and talk about it like that’s going to happen. Because I don’t know.”

Vaughn said the media should cover events instead of trying to analyze them.

“Stay in the present news media people,” she said. “We don’t need to know what you think is going to happen down the line.”

Vaughn concluded with a challenge to those attending the conference. “Become discerning consumers of the news.”

To the journalism students present, she asked them to reverse the trend of opinionated media. “Bring back reporting,” she said.

The Troy University Gospel Choir, State Representative Alan Boothe, Troy City Councilman Jason Reeves, and members of the African American Leadership Conference Advisory Board provided an ­­­introduction for Vaughn.

Presiding member Charlesetta Townsend-Jones concluded the evening. “Take it home and live by it, and the world will be a better place,” she said.

Those in attendance agreed with Vaughn’s message. One conference attendant, Emily Hill, said, “She hit the nail on the head. News used to be fair and across the board, but not now.”

She added, “We must listen and decide for ourselves.”

The conference continues today with speakers including Emmy-nominated actor and director Tim Reid and Grammy Award winner Kandi Burruss.