Campus News

Convocation Speaker Touches on the Future of Journalism

December 19, 2019
Yvonne Gay
A man talks at a podium.
Photo credit: Michael Hartman

Tom Rosenstiel ’78 is one of the country’s most recognized thinkers on the intersection of media and politics and the future of journalism. He recently discussed President Donald Trump’s relationship with the media, the meaning of objectivity, and why and how we all may perceive “facts.”

“I believe that the principles of what [people] want from the news hasn’t changed,” Rosenstiel told audience members during his December Convocation lecture in Oberlin’s Dye Lecture Hall. “The way journalists do the job has to change drastically, and here are some modest proposals, which I hope are timely as Oberlin [moves into] a concentration in this area.”

Rosenstiel was press critic at the Los Angeles Times for a decade, a Washington correspondent for the Times, a commentator for MSNBC, and chief congressional correspondent for Newsweek. He is the author of seven nonfiction books and three novels. His newest novel, Oppo, looks at contemporary political campaigns, the explosive growth in opposition research, and the forces behind polarization.

According to Rosenstiel, we must recognize that journalists are no longer gatekeepers over what people know. “They are more often today, annotators of what the public has already heard. How do you annotate facts in a world of distrust and disbelief?” he asked. 

“We must rediscover the lost meaning of objectivity to understand that the key to journalism is a discipline of evidence, inference, and verification. How do you get things right? How do you know if things are true? Just going and being a stenographer and sticking a microphone in front of someone is not journalism. The process, the discipline of knowing, how we check it out is what will distinguish good journalism from bad.” 

Hear Tom Rosentiel’s Entire Lecture

You may also like…

A man signs a book.

Oberlin in Photos

March 31, 2020
If the walls in Finney Chapel could talk, they would reverberate with the enchanting sounds of the Oberlin Orchestra; command attention with empowering words spoken by Martin Luther KingJr.; and pulse joyously along with South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir.
A row of seated students on a stage.

This Week in Photos: March 4

March 4, 2020
Alumni journalist and authors, the first black woman to stage an opera in the United States is honored, and TIMARA students who turn words of gratitude into works of audible art at a nearby hospital are just some of the features in this week’s photo series.
A man sits in front of a group of students, holding his hand out.

Revisiting the Underground Railroad

February 26, 2020
A student re-enactment of escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad is recognized 40 years later with a visit by participant Herman Beavers ’81 at Third World House.