David Broder
Journalist, The Washington Post
02:06

Re: What can media be doing better?

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The current model of politics by soundbyte is stifling real debate.

David Broder

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David S. Broder is best known for the twice-weekly political column he writes for the Washington Post, where he has been on staff since 1966. Before joining the Post, he worked at the New York Times, the Congressional Quarterly,the now-defunct Washington Star and the Bloomington, IL Pantagraph. Broder appears as a frequent pundit on television programs such as Washington Week and Meet the Press. In addition to the Pulitzer, which he received in 1973, Broder was the receipient of the 1990 Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Colby College. He is the author and co-author of six books, most recently The System: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, with Haynes Johnson(1996). Broder taught at Duke University from 1987-88. Since 2001, he has held a tenured professorship at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. After receiving his AB in 1947 and his AM in 1951, both in Political Science, from the University of Chicago, Broder served in the United States Army for two years. Ideas recorded on: 9/13/07
Transcript
Well it’s changed enormously. I mean television was already the dominant factor when I came in, but . . . in 1960. But there was a real sort of balance between print and television at that point. On the campaign buses, the print reporters still sat up front and the television people sat in the back of the bus. That changed pretty quickly. And now of course with cable, both networks and the print are in the back seat and cable is driving the bus. It’s a problem that is a kind of an artifact of the . . . I think mostly the television role as the dominant channel of communication for politicians. What the politicians learned was that if they maintained the old-fashioned way of campaigning – set speeches, complex talks on foreign policy, or foreign policy or economic policy – that reporters had wide range as to what they chose to report from those speeches. But if they framed their message each day in a single sound bite, particularly if they could do it in front of a dramatic setting – a closed steel mill or a polluted stream – that became the message for the television coverage. And so with television, what you had essentially was a shrinkage of the daily message from the campaigns to that sound bite level. Recorded on: 9/13/07


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