NORTH ADAMS -- While journalist Howard Kurtz is optimistic about the future of the media, he does worry about the decline of serious journalism in the United States.
Kurtz, who is the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources," and Washington bureau chief for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, spoke about his concern, and the reasons for it, at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Church Street Center Wednesday night. His presentation was part of the college's Hardman Lecture Series.
"I generally welcome the flowering of voices, the online debate and the opening up of dialogue, but is more a better journalism. More journalism you can choose from," Kurtz said.
Social media provides this whole other conversation in which anybody can weigh in on all kinds of events in real time, which is a good thing, he said.
"There are now multiple conversations that go on during big events," he said. "In a way it breaks the media monopoly."
However, it can also give the news business an easy way out, he said.
"I think what happens on Twitter ... it drives a lot of media coverage. Journalists see it, they talk about it, it goes on cable TV, people blog about it, then we have to have a story in the paper because it's hot, it's trending, it's happening now," he said.
During the presidential de bate Tuesday night, there were a lot of exchanges on tax cuts, health care, immigration and education policy, Kurtz said.
"We had a
After the vice presidential debate it was Joe Biden and if he laughed too much, he said. After the first presidential debate it was about Big Bird, and after the second presidential debate Tuesday night it was about the phrase, "binders of women," he said.
"I think that all that entertaining stuff is fine. Politics is kind of a spectator sport, but we also have to face a pretty important election for the future of our country," he said. "I think it has become too easy for news organization to kind of ride the surface of these controversies."
Kurtz, who was a reporter and columnist at The Wash ington Post for 29 years, said that the news business is in a crisis with newsrooms having shrunk dramatically, and some newspapers no longer publishing five days a week. Those cuts have hurt serious journalism, he said.
"It's great that we have websites that aggregate news. It's great that we can get news on our phones. But the real, hard work doing the accountability reporting about the governor, the mayor, the state house, the city council, looking at the contracts, where the money is going, where the tax dollars are going, how the schools are doing, that takes shoe level," he said.
Newspapers in particular have always specialized in that kind of reporting, but the business model has kind of collapsed thanks to the Internet, he said.
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