Award-winning journalist Jacqueline Thomas will share some insights on how news media cover politics during a talk at 7 tonight at the Noel Wien Library.
High up on the list of Thomas’ topics is the importance of the journalist’s job to not simply regurgitate speeches and news releases, but to provide essential background to help readers – or, for other media, listeners or viewers – sift through the chaff to get to the germ.
“Do we just report what somebody says?” she said. “Or is it the job – and I think it is the news media’s job – to try to provide context and give readers some idea about what was true about what was just said. Not just ‘He said, she said.’”
Thomas has been writing about politics since she began her career more than 30 years ago as a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then she’s worked in several newsrooms in the Midwest and East Coast, including stints as Washington bureau chief for the Detroit News and editorial-page editor for the Baltimore Sun.
Thomas knows firsthand about the challenges facing the newspaper industry, and while many accuse the Internet for the industry’s downturn, Thomas says it’s not that simple. She says the rise of online news may ultimately benefit newspapers, because the public ultimately will demand the same high standards of newsgathering as traditionally practiced by newspapers.
“You know, there’ll always be a place for quality journalism. It’s just a matter of all of us adjusting to the changes in technology,” she said.
Thomas left the newspaper business in 2009 to become a freelance editor and writer – and to enter academia, first as a visiting professor at the University of Kansas’s school of journalism and mass communications and presently as an instructor at Indiana and Purdue universities.
The UAF journalism department arranged for Thomas’ visit here.