Video by Matt Haugen, WSU News, of clips from press conference with Ted Koppel before the symposium appearance.
Photo by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Daily Show host Jon Stewart once said of Ted Koppel: “You make me feel small. You make me feel like I want to do better.”
Much of the audience appeared to feel similarly humbled when Koppel spoke Friday night at Washington State University’s Beasley coliseum. Koppel, best known as the longtime anchor and managing editor of ABC’s Nightline until 2005, came to WSU to receive the 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.
The crowd gave him three standing ovations during the two-hour event.
The subject of Koppel’s speech “…and Murrow was worried back then!” reflected his concern over the state of journalism.
“We are waist-deep in muck,” he said.
With so much emphasis on technology and the ability to get information out at top-speed, journalism’s credibility is eroding, he told the audience. Largely due to the Internet, “The capacity to communicate anywhere, anytime, rests in the hands of everyone. Is that good? I’m not sure.”
Koppel, 71, who is a National Public Radio news analyst and contributor to BBC America, said there is too little regard for social media’s impact. Blogging and Twitter may be remarkable tools to swiftly get the word out to vast numbers of people, but “what is communicated is far more important than how it is communicated,” he said.
“We have produced a looser, careless form of communicating,” he said.
“Ted’s appearance … offered us a skeptical – and occasionally searing – assessment of the value and importance of today’s digital media universe,” said Lawrence Pintak, dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. “The questions he asked … are central to the teaching mission of the Murrow College and its tradition of bringing world-class professionals to meet the students of Washington State University.”
WSU president Elson S. Floyd presented Koppel with the microphone-shaped award. Following Koppel’s speech, audience members stood to ask questions. Several students thanked Koppel for visiting WSU and instilling in them a sense of integrity.
Koppel offered three words of advice to the audience. After you write a story, a blog or a tweet – before you push the “Send” button:
“Pause. Consider. Reflect.”
Presented by WSU and The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, the annual symposium recognizes exceptional achievement in communication as it celebrates scholarship and connects students to industry leaders. This marked the 37th symposium. WSU alumnus Edward R. Murrow, like Ted Koppel, strived for accuracy and integrity in broadcast journalism.