After working as a Time magazine White House correspondent and writing two books, Hamilton College Trustee Barrett Seaman ‘67 returned to the Hill to share his perspective on the controversy of journalism. He presented a lecture and facilitated a discussion on Oct. 19 titled “Why Mainstream Media Has Had a Great Fall – and What it Will Take to Put It Back Together Again.”
Seaman began his presentation by explaining how journalism has lost the trust of the public, comparing its fragmented state to that of the well-known nursery rhyme character, Humpty Dumpty. He provided some suggestions as to how we as a nation can repair the relationship between journalism and its audience.
“The first thing we have to do is restore trust in public institutions, which is a long-term project that goes well beyond journalism alone,” Seaman said. “The public is going to have to demand more and better self-policing by the media. We need fact-checking institutions to police what is out there.”
Seaman also stated that in our technology-driven world today, print media is dying. He suggests that a way to make media more accessible in our digital age would be to build in news subscriptions to electronic devices that we purchase so that it is part of the phone, computer, or tablet that we use daily.
Following his lecture, he invited questions and opened up the discussion to the students, covering themes such as the way media has changed during President Donald Trump’s administration and how obsessed today’s readers are with immediately sharing news with those around them, whether or not it is factually accurate.
“It is a citizen’s responsibility to do what you can to ascertain the truth and to act on it,” Seaman said. “We are overwhelmed by media all the time and we have a tendency to be passive and accept it instead of probe and ask questions. You have to hold the reporters’ and other organizations’ feet to the fire.”