This is the last installation of my interview series with Mr. Dale Rice, professor and Director of the Journalism Department at Texas A&M.
Me: Can we, or will we, get more centered again?
Dale: When I say this, I’m sounding like a perpetual optimist, but I think we can move back to a time when people trust mainstream media again. The media is going to have to do some good soul searching, some good self examination about what went wrong in the last campaign. I think there were some journalists, like James Hohmann who writes the daily 202 for the Washington post. Before the election he went to Michigan and North Carolina, interviewing people and writing there, writing about these under currents that existed. I think at the same time, jay rosen made a point in his presentation saying “Journalists need to listen deeply so that they understand how people’s issues connect the public square.” I think journalists have to do a much better job at looking at how things are impacting people, and you can’t just do that in Washington or on the coast or in Texas, you’ve got to go every where and find ways to see what is happening to people and then reporting not only on that but on the potential for solution. And because journalism has faced an economic crisis for the last 20 years, I think we have far fewer journalists and far fewer resources that we can aim at those sorts of things. Maybe we’ll have to pick and choose.
Me: How can we increase media literacy?
D: I think that one of the most important things, that the journalists themselves need to do, they need to both report more widely and they need to read more widely. Every good journalist should find people on the right and people on the left, columnists who are thoughtful people, and read both sides of the issues so you understand where more people are coming from on both sides of the fence.
Me: Do you think we should ignore far leaning media? If so, why?
D: I don’t think we should ignore them, but we shouldn’t let them drive stories. We have to start making better editorial judgments, not letting the fringes drive our stories. We have been giving far too much coverage to fake news and responding to it. We have to make decisions about our own coverage. Maybe less reporting on fake news, more reporting on serious issues.