Fox contributor talks future of journalism with students

Published 11:00 pm Friday, April 5, 2013

Written by Gabrielle Pack, intern with The Messenger

Having a sense of history and learning to report the truth while telling a compelling story were a few points Erick Erickson stressed at the Hall School of Journalism and Communication Annual Symposium on Friday.

Erickson is a blogger, radio host of his show Drive Time, and a Fox News contributor. He spoke to about 100 faculty members and students about “Insta-Journalism and the Need for Slow.”

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“There’s a drive for the media to be first,” he said. He reassured students that their goals are not to aim for the Pulitzer Prize, but to be in the rare market of reporters who can tell story in a compelling way using facts and truths as its focus.

Reporters are bias in worldviews and have their own presumptions about the topics they are covering, and television and news shows are not telling the whole truth, but are painting an emotional picture for the public, according to Erickson.

“People are hungry for intellectual pursuit,” Erickson said.

Reporters must research and know the history of past events before beginning a story.

They must get the historic perspective and what were the thoughts and word choices being used to describe those experiences.

One of the examples that Erickson gave was the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s coverage in the recent cheating scandal within the Atlanta Public School System. The AJC knew when to investigate the scandal once they realized the significant increase in the students test scores.

The story showed how the decisions of those 37 employees and former APS superintendent would impact the economy. It exploited the failing school system and the disappointed parents whose children were just pushed through without reading on the necessary grade levels.

“The AJC told a story that could not be told in a newscast, online publication or in a magazine,” he said. “If newspapers want to save themselves, they have to think outside the box.”

Courtney Chandler, a sophomore from Helena majoring in broadcast journalism, said the symposium was very informative on writing stories and how to tell a story. He said it reminded him to never change, but to refrain from any bias views.

The symposium ended with an open floor dicussion and questioning from students and faculty.

The Hall School of Journalism and Communication and the Sorrell College of Business’ Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy sponsored the event.