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Gallivan advisors discuss reporting

Jack Rooney | Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Members of the Advisory Committee for the John W. Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy held a panel discussion Monday afternoon on the issues of modern journalism and how students can make an impact in the future of the industry.

Panelists included Robert Costa, Washington editor of the “National Review” magazine; Bill Dwyre, sports columnist for the “Los Angeles Times;” Maddie Hanna, reporter for the “Philadelphia Inquirer;” Daniel LeDuc, editor at the Pew Charitable Trusts; John McMeel, president and chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal; Anne Thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent for NBC News and Kelley Tuthill, reporter and anchor at WCVB-TV, the Boston affiliate of ABC News. Prof. Robert Schmuhl, chair of Notre Dame’s department of American Studies and director of the Gallivan Program, moderated the discussion.

Schmuhl asked each panel member to briefly speak about journalistic lessons they learned both during their time at Notre Dame and in their professional lives after college.

Hanna, who graduated in 2008, said young reporters must have the courage to “report critcally.”

“It’s not just about reporting on an event. It’s asking tough questions about that event and putting things into context,” Hanna said. “When difficult things happen, don’t shy away from them or sugarcoat them.”

Thompson stressed the continual process of education that occurs for journalists of all kinds and said the best way to learn is through their mistakes.

“You never stop learning when you’re a journalist; it’s a great thing,” Thompson said. “You never stop learning about what you do. It’s also very humbling because you learn everyday about how much you don’t know.”

LeDuc said persistence is one of the most important qualities for a successful journalist.

“You can be nice as a journalist and you should be polite, but you need to build a steely resolve,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to push back at your sources.”

After the formal discussion ended, panel members took questions from students in the audience. Students asked questions about the challenges of working as a young reporter and the role social media, especially platforms like Twitter, plays in modern journalism.

Costa said Twitter is an extremely important tool and students who are interested in journalism as a career should utilize all social media platforms, and do so properly.

“It is so critical right now when you’re applying for a job … the first thing your potential new boss is going to look at is your Twitter,” Costa said.

“I find Twitter to be very empowering because as a reporter you often only have so much space to write a story and you may have a lot of color, anecdotal things in your story or notes from a meeting, and it comes back to having judgment and know what to share and what not to share.

“Accuracy is by far the number one thing always, but it’s really great to be able to share things about a story on Twitter beyond what you wrote in your own piece.”
McMeel said he had great hope for students who attended the discussion and said they are the future of journalism.

“You are talent … and talent has a way of being able to break through with what you’re doing or just always keeping that new idea down,” McMeel said.

Contact Jack Rooney at [email protected]