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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Journalist encourages students to stay engaged in public life

    Gwen Ifill, a renowned journalist currently working for PBS, spoke to a full house in Crowder Hall yesterday afternoon about her career and the path she took to get there.
    Gwen Ifill, a renowned journalist currently working for PBS, spoke to a full house in Crowder Hall yesterday afternoon about her career and the path she took to get there.

    It’s not often that journalists become the subject of interviews themselves, but last night journalist Gwen Ifill had the tables turned on her as part of the Eller College of Management’s Distinguished Speakers Series.

    In her one-hour chat with Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College, topics ranged from new media and the 24-hour news cycle to the presidential candidates of the 2008 election.

    Much of the interview focused on politics and Ifill’s reporting experience as a senior correspondent for “”The News Hour with Jim Lehrer”” and moderator and managing editor of “”Washington Week.””

    In 2004, Ifill moderated the vice-presidential debate, and she said she enjoyed knowing that John Edwards and Dick Cheney had no idea what questions she would ask.

    As to advice she would offer students, she employed a similar method of thinking.

    “”You’ve got to be curious about everything,”” Ifill said. “”Nobody will answer the question if you don’t ask it. There are no such thing as stupid questions.””

    Ifill also credited the current generation with being much more engaged in the world around them, citing the numerous students who have volunteered in hurricane relief efforts.

    Portney also asked about the current presidential candidates and why campaigning has begun so early. Ifill said she hopes the debate about the candidates is longer, instead of the decision-making process being shortened.

    “”There’s something real and interesting about the way that people are following this election,”” Ifill said.

    As for whether the line between cable television news and opinion is being blurred, she said she has great faith in involved voters to separate the two.

    “”After a while, you have to stop and take a breath,”” Ifill said. “”Journalism in general, people think so many of them are not that on top of things or that they let things slide by, but I find most of the journalists I know reek of integrity, are really smart and really engaged.””

    Ifill also said the biggest challenge for this generation of students is staying on top of things.

    “”Staying engaged and knowing what you have to do or what you have to say and what you have to think matters,”” Ifill said. “”It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, I can’t be bothered, these guys, they never tell the truth, they all lie, they never care about what I care about,’ but they never will unless you force them to.””

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