Koppel Warns Current State of Journalism Is Threat to State of Democracy

Journalist Ted Koppel gives a dour assessment of the state of journalism during a talk at Duke. Photo by Chris Hildreth/Duke Photography
Journalist Ted Koppel gives a dour assessment of the state of journalism during a talk at Duke. Photo by Chris Hildreth/Duke Photography

Ted Koppel sat cross-armed at the Fuqua School of Business Wednesday night with a concerned look on his face.

“We need objective reality,” he told the audience. “We need objective reporting.”  

The renowned journalist and longtime host of ABC’s Nightline cited recent research suggesting young couples are much more comfortable engaging in interreligious and interracial relationships than entertaining the idea of someone from their political opposition. He continued by taking a poll in the liberal-leaning room:

“Who here reads the New York Times?” Most hands shot in the air. “Who here listens to Rush Limbaugh?” Only one hand went up. He said little else before taking questions, but his point was poignant.

Koppel’s talk was sponsored by the Sanford School of Public Policy and its DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. He said that neither political ‘side’ is ever telling the full story. Reading and listening to the thoughts of those we disagree with is an essential part of maintaining a free press and a true democracy, he said.

Speaking on the state of media, Koppel encouraged all in the room to abandon the study of journalism and examine another subject in-depth. He said  the next wave of journalists must be well-versed on all sides of the story, so they can more objectively report what is actually going on – and regain the public’s trust.