Tom Freston: Catching Flak
Question: Did you ever catch any flack for your work at MTV?
Tom Freston: Well you’re gonna get flack for whatever . . . You know if you’re in the media, you’re gonna get flack for almost anything you do from all sides. So you know in the early days of MTV, if you started talking about some of these issues, people go, “Come on man. Play the music.” You know, “We’re not that interested.” Or people would say, you know, “On one hand your promulgating certain stereotypes. And then on another hand you’re trying to level them and break through them, but you’re part of the problem. You’re as much a part of the problem as you . . . You’re more a part of the problem then you might think.” Some people would say, “Why are you getting young people . . .” We actually had this happen. “Why are you looking to get young people involved . . . more involved in the political process? They’re really not . . . If they don’t wanna vote and participate, it’s because they’re not interested. And they’re not interested because they don’t really know and they don’t really care. So why do we want a lot of uninformed, ill-informed people participating and skewing the results of any election?” You could actually get thoughts along those lines as well.
Question: How would you respond?
Tom Freston: You know you wouldn’t be necessarily responding to every particular complaint someone might have about you. But I think one of the . . . You know your most basic response to any of those things was, “Look, this is an issue in our society. We . . . We’re trying to educate people as to what’s going on and raise their awareness, and hopefully their participation. And we think that that’s a good thing. We don’t know necessarily if these people are gonna be liberal or conservative, or what kind of party they’re going to belong to. But just being a functioning member of a democracy is a good thing. So if you’ve got a problem with that, so be it.”
Recorded On: 7/6/07
MTV was about engaging and informing the youth.
The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think
Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.
- Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
- As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
- If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
- Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
- By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?
- "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
- The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
- Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.