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‘60 Minutes’ reporter talks 21st century journalism

Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 03:03

Be the most well-read person ever, work at a news organization that actually lets you report the news, and oh yeah, be able to develop speaking skills good enough to speak in front of large crowds across America.

This is some of the advice offered by "60 Minutes" news correspondent, Lesley Stahl, as she spoke to a public audience at the Claremont Graduate College on March 2.

Stahl has been a correspondent for the news show since March 1991 and this year marks her 21st on the broadcast.

Stahl offered over an hour of stories and advice that she has learned along the way during her career, including an approximately 20-minute Q&A session with the audience afterwards.

A major focus of Stahl's speech was technology and how its rapid advancements have shaped the way journalists deliver the news and how the world receives and interprets the news.

Stahl has won several Emmy Awards for her interviews on "Face the Nation" and her "60 Minutes" reporting, including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy given in September 2003.

Also, her "60 Minutes" reports "How He Won the War," about former FDA Commissioner David Kessler's battle with the tobacco industry, and "Punishing Saddam," which exposed the plight of Iraqi citizens suffering the effects of the United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

She spent time reflecting on what life used to be like when the main source of news for American families was the evening news on television.

"Technology is the big change of our time," Stahl said.

She said that technology both hinders society's views on important political issues, while also connecting society in such ways that are only purely beneficial.

Stahl told a personal anecdote about how she feels grateful for the invention of Facetime, a video chat app for her iPad that has allowed her to watch her grandson grow every day in Los Angeles, from her home on the East Coast.

However, Stahl also posed the shift in technology that may potentially be detrimental to politics in specific: Twitter.

"Twitter is more important than television," Stahl said.

She felt that politicians can now argue from a new platform that changes the United States from being a representative democracy, to a direct democracy when they "tweet" issues and gain large numbers of followers of their own ideas and issues.

Stahl also explained that today, the President of the United States must compete with hundreds of other television and blog, and cable stations shows unlike in the past where there were only three channels that everyone watched.

These technological shifts may separate Americans more.

"Television brought us together," Stahl said.

With technology producing polarity in television and political blogs slanted in favor of a particular party, the middle of the political spectrum is slipping away.

Much of Stahl's talk shed a light on journalism, and urgency to be aware of the way technology is changing the field.

Stahl, however, has hopes for the future of journalism.

She believes that even if ink on paper eventually goes extinct, that new reporting will survive forever.

Stahl is married to author Aaron Latham. They live in New York and have a daughter named Taylor.


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