Potter tells students how to keep journalism alive

Christina Stolfi

Guest speaker, former CBS and CNN news reporter, and executive director of Lab New Stories, Deborah Potter, traveled to Quinnipiac Thursday night to give an informative lecture on “The State of Journalism Today.” The lecture was held in Mancheski Executive Seminar room. The room in the School of Business was about half full with students and professors.

Potter has been in the network television and news writing industry for 30 years and continues to travel to various universities throughout the country to share her expertise in the journalism field. Potter has covered incredible stories over the course of her career, from the 40th anniversary of D-day on the Normandy beaches, to covering the White House when President Regan was in office.

Potter admits that over the years the state of journalism has considerably changed. She recalled from her past experience that news rooms used to be “noisy, smoky, places with manual typewriters and no computers.” Contrastingly in this day and age, we represent an era of new technology with access to computers, database software, and the internet. However; no matter what changes in technology, Potter stressed the ethics of journalism should remain the same. She acknowledges that, “all journalists want to break a big story” but they have to go about it in the right manner. Potter also concedes to the fact that today, “news is more opinion driven than it has been in centuries;” journalists must make it a priority to confirm their stories so that they gain the public’s trust. Potter pointed out that, “journalism is storytelling based on truth, subjective to verification.” It is crucial for a top-notch journalist to be able to confirm their sources.

Potter went on to explain the importance of four main aspects of journalism that one should keep in mind when trying to tackle a critical story: courtesy, commitment, caring, and courage. With these four valuable aspects in mind, a journalist should make an effort to explain to the public why they act they way they do; certain tactics are used when trying to get a particularly imperative or controversial story.

Journalists must also demonstrate commitment to a story even when it is difficult to uncover, and courage to tell stories that people may not want to hear. Potter says, “It takes courage to talk about things that make people uncomfortable,” but sometimes it has to be done. With enthusiastic people, dedication, and personal initiative, “journalism will survive,” Potter said.