Claremont COURIER/Saturday, March 3, 2012 4
Stahl tackles technology and the great political divide
echnology is not only
drastically changing the
way our world gets its
news, it may be helping fuel our
country’s political divide, CBS
news correspondent Lesley
Stahl said Thursday night during
a speech at Garrison Theater.
The award-winning journalist came to
Claremont from her home state of New
York as a guest of the Claremont Gradu-
ate University’s transdisciplinary program.
She arrived to speak to an audience mostly
composed of town dignitaries, university
trustees and a few college students about
the role of technology and how it has
shaped current events and today’s culture.
Prior to her speaking engagement, Ms.
Stahl sat down with the COURIER to dis-
cuss career highlights, politics and the rap-
idly changing way we get our news.
As a broadcast journalist for 40 years
and counting, Ms. Stahl brought authority
to the subject, presenting the good and
bad that comes with iPads and one-click
news items at our fingertips.
“Technology is the big story of our
time,” she said. “Much of it is wonderful.
It improves our health and it makes life
easier. The pace of technology, however,
is so rapid now, it is happening so quickly,
that it is really hard to keep up.” COURIER photos/Steven Felschundneff
Through anecdotes and tales of per- Lesley Stahl smiles as she is introduced on Thursday during her speech at Garrison Theater. Ms. Stahl, who was a guest of
sonal experience, Ms. Stahl provided ex- Claremont Graduate University, spent the afternoon in town including a tour of The Claremont Colleges, which she said, she
amples of technology’s impact on society. had always wanted to see.
Today’s society turns to multiple media
sources for its news, whether it’s Twitter, are having. I don’t know where the ‘cen-
blogs, newspapers or a slew of news pro- ter’ is anymore. Technology has brought
grams from CNN to The Daily Show this to us.”
with John Stewart. It’s a significant According to Ms. Stahl, this poses a
change, Ms. Stahl pointed out, from when great challenge for our Commander in
she first began as a broadcaster. Chief and the way that our government
In the early days of her journalism ca- communicates with us.
reer, she noted, Americans tuned in to one As a correspondent for the White House
of 3 channels every night, all playing sim- during the Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan
ilar broadcasting segments for their daily and George H. W. Bush administrations,
news fix. she jokingly dubbed herself the “princess
“The whole country was watching and of the White House.” The presidency cen-
hearing the same thing. It took our diverse tered itself around those nightly broad-
country and brought us together. That’s casts because officials knew it was an ef-
why they called it broadcasting,” she said. fective way to reach the public. It isn’t by
“Now they call it narrowcasting.” accident President Reagan is referred to as
CNN, introduced in the 1980s, changed one of the last presidents to “get things
the game with the implementation of its done,” Ms. Stahl told her audience.
24-hour broadcast, according to Ms. Stahl. “The whole country would listen to the
New technologies, such as the switch from president every night. So if he had some-
film to video tape, helped aid the progres- thing to say he went out there and said it. Members of the audience listen to broadcast journalist Lesley Stahl speak on
sion. The president today says something and Thursday at Garrison Theater. The crowd was mostly older folks, as Ms. Stahl
“When we shot with film, it took an en- he is competing with a hundred dumb noted. When she asked how people got their news, most audience members
tire day to process it. This gave reporters shows on cable,” she said. “Then the mes- indicated they prefer reading newspapers and watching television.
time to think. A full day to think about sage gets sanded down…If he’s lucky, political sites because they agree with new blogs, new websites and more tweets
what we needed to say,” she said. they will scream about him on Fox for 10 them, and they are not hearing, reading, at an alarming pace, with no sign of slow-
With the shift from film to digital, the days. I feel sorry for anyone who becomes opening themselves up to different views,” ing itself down, maybe it’s time for us to
former 6:30 p.m. deadlines for news seg- president, at least right now.” she said. “It’s an echo chamber. People are take a second for reflection amid the in-
ments became a thing of the past. While Ms. Stahl shared her appreciation listening to their own thoughts come back formation overload.
“Now there is no time to think. You for the multitude of ways news reaches an at them, and not reasonably considering “We should all sit back and try to figure
have to feed the beast around the clock,” audience, she also acknowledged her fear the other side because we don’t hear it. out, within ourselves and with our fellow
Ms. Stahl said. “Now that we are all that society is focusing on the information This is absolutely forcing extremism in citizens, what exactly we are making our
watching different cable stations and read- that it wants to hear, instead of expanding this country.” choices based on.”
ing different sites on the Internet, we see its knowledge base. Ms. Stahl doesn’t see a clear cut solu- —Beth Hartnett
a splintering. To me, this is really the rea- “I am more concerned that people are tion, however, she did offer a piece of ad-
son why we are having the politics we only getting their information from certain vice. As technology continues to spawn