Media Summit Looks Back on 15 Years of Public Trust in the News
The 15th annual Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit featured a nod to the past—and a view to the future—on the topic of public trust in the media.
On Oct. 23, a panel of media professionals gathered on the stage of Waterman Theatre in Tyler Hall to reflect on past public perceptions of the media—captured in video segments from the 2005 Media Summit that were shared with the audience—and equate them to today’s perceptions.
A crucial difference between media in 2005 and media today is the influx of social media and other non-traditional methods of sharing news. Regardless of the method of delivery of the news, legitimate journalism still rises above the fray and trustworthy journalists still exist, panelists agreed.
“There are reputable sources with knowledgeable reporters,” said Doug Schneider, a reporter for the USA Today Network in Wisconsin. “Someone who can’t do it right doesn’t do it for very long. Your reputation as a journalist is your currency in the realm.”
Schneider was among the panelists for the summit, which also included Sharon Friedlander Newman ’79, a senior producer for MSNBC; Cristina Domingues, an anchor and reporter for Spectrum News in Rochester, N.Y.; and Jennifer Williams, senior foreign editor for online news source Vox.
Kendis Gibson ’94, weekend anchor for MSNBC, served as the moderator for the event at his alma mater. He is also a past panelist for the Media Summit.
Many questions posed during the 2019 summit were prefaced by video clips of the 2005 summit, which was moderated by media analyst and author Ken Auletta ’63. In the 2005 discussion titled “Why Don’t We Trust the News Media? How Can the News Media Recover Public Trust?” panelists discussed the corporate takeover of media, expansion of competing news outlets, structural problems associated with the movement from newspapers to television and the image of the media as a liberal interest group.
The first year’s panelists included Ben Bradlee, legendary editor of the Washington Post during Watergate; Tom Rosenstiel, director of Columbia University’s Project for Excellence in Journalism; Kimberley A. Strassel, a senior editorial page writer for the Wall Street Journal; and David Folkenflik, who covers media for National Public Radio.
In the 2019 summit, panelists agreed that journalists continue to grapple with the same issues and more.
“The question of trust is something that just makes us work to be better,” said Newman, who started her media career in SUNY Oswego’s WOCR and WRVO studios and today works for The 11th Hour with Brian Williams. Scrutiny leads to self-policing in the field, and “in real journalism, journalists don’t make up facts and sources,” she said. “It just doesn’t happen in legitimate journalism.”
Following the summit, students were welcomed to a career connector session in the Tyler Hall Art Gallery. Anja Godlewski-Dykes ’15, Jillian Meisenzahl ’14, Justin Berrios ’15, Leah Landry ’11, Matthew Bishop ’14, Marissa Sarbak ’15 and Rufaro Matombo ’12 shared their career paths and networked with students seeking roles in the media industry.
The Media Summit was founded in 2005 by Louis A. Borrelli Jr. ’77. In 2007, Al Roker ’76 became a co-sponsor of the event, which was renamed in memory of their beloved professor, the late Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell.
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