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The Journalistic Community
Steve Coll is President & CEO of New America Foundation, and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post, serving as the paper's managing editor from 1998 to 2004. He is the author of six books, including The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of AT&T (1986); The Taking of Getty Oil (1987); Eagle on the Street, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the SEC's battle with Wall Street (with David A. Vise, 1991); On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey into South Asia (1994), Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004); and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (2008).
Question: What are the challenges facing the journalistic community today?
Steve Coll: The traditional business model that supported newspaper newsrooms of the sort that I spent 20 years in is under extraordinary pressure. You have two things going on simultaneously right now. One is a cyclical downturn of a pretty severe kind but familiar, a sort of recession or recession-like decline in economic activity plus inflation in newsprint and other costs. So you’ve got a really bad sort of cycle and then on top of that temporary cyclical problem you’ve got a huge secular shift in advertising and readership away from print. And I don’t think the newspaper newsrooms that we’ve known are likely to come through this combination of pressures without in most cases radical reductions in size to the point where the mission of civil service journalism that they were able to support before including independent foreign correspondence, independent investigative reporting of a reasonably robust kind, watchdog reporting at the local, national level. It’s going to be very difficult to do that work in those companies. So then the challenge facing journalism is how do you keep that work alive and how do you keep the values that made that work successful alive? And I think that that’s a challenge in part for philanthropy. That’s why I’m interested in the New America Foundation and working with different models to try to make that happen, and I think it’s a challenge for publishers in the new media to determine along with everything else they learn about how to create business models to do as the families that owned the great newspapers did. And once you find a successful business model as a publisher, well, what beyond making money do you intend to do in this constitutional system? And I hope that a new generation of publishers will answer that call in ways that the owners of newspapers did before them, but they haven’t so far generally.
Question: What was the craziest moment you had as a journalist abroad?
Steve Coll: I loved being a foreign correspondent. I traveled in lots of places and had lots of experience in war zones in Sri Lanka and Kashmir, in India, in Afghanistan. You tend to think of the travel and the landscapes that you were in, very privileged to be there with a notebook in your back pocket and just astonished from hour to hour of what you were in the middle of, The bin Ladens’ last project really was a return to the basic kind of street reporting and courthouse reporting and door knocking and sort of three yards in a cloud of dust, just fighting forward against a target that really is a hard target and- but just the adventure of discovering undiscovered information is really what I- is what I most enjoy.
Recorded on: 07/10/2008
Steve Coll debates the challenges facing print culture today and reminisces about his personal experiences.
Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.
- If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
- Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
- In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.
- Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
- This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
- "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."
Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?
- A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
- This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
- The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.