Tom Brokaw talks of politics, his work and the future of media during Poynter anniversary bash
Tom Brokaw, former anchor and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News, touched on many topics as he addressed more than 200 people at Poynter’s 35th anniversary celebration.
With a pivotal mid-term election just days before, the timing of the event was apt. Brokaw, who has covered politics for more than four decades, had a lot to say about the major issues facing the country.
He wondered, for example, why war hadn’t been a larger part of the political debate.
He spoke of a recent Op-Ed he wrote for The New York Times, in which he talked about the small percentage of Americans who bear the emotional burden of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By comparison, Brokaw said, the age group who lived through World War II had a unified commitment to the war effort. Brokaw refers to this group as “the greatest generation”—those Americans born in the 1920s, who came of age during the Depression, fought in World War II and raised Baby Boom children. Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation,” was published in 1998.
As he answered questions, moderated by Poynter President Karen Dunlap and Poynter Chairman Paul Tash, Brokaw spoke of the changing, mobile habits of media consumers and the need for education about making sense of the world around us.
Being first on the scene of a story, writing well
When asked in an earlier interview with Mallary Tenore what advice he would give to today’s journalists, Brokaw focused on the importance of good writing and curiosity.
“Journalists: learn to write. Text messaging is not writing,” he said. “Whether you’re writing for a newspaper, online or on the air, get better at writing.”
“We’re still mid-passage in determining the impact of all this new technology,” said Brokaw. “We’re trying to absorb what it means to our individual lives and how it fits into a pattern that’s useful for us.”