Arts & Entertainment, Business, Writing

The State of Journalism

Bob Woodward

Lesson time 06:52 min

Bob discusses how the internet has transformed the landscape of journalism. He encourages reporters to continue fighting to uncover the truth—even in the face of attacks on the media.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Accelerated News Cycle • Attacks on the Press • The Media Is Not Fake News • Democracy Dies in Darkness


In the internet world, people can say anything about anyone. So the question is, how do you develop a system and a process to get it right? In this time period when people distrust journalists-- I think we're as low on the approval rating as members of Congress, or maybe lower-- we have to present stuff that's authentic. We need to do it in a way that people will say, I can believe that. I can trust that. In the internet age, people say it's 24/7-- that's wrong. It's every 10 minutes, seven days a week. So that increases the pressure on the reporter, the editor, and the news organization to get it out. Impatience and speed is driving so much in this that I think it is certainly not serving the reader or the viewer or listener on radio. And we need to pull back and see if there's some way to have more patience and slow it down. There's a saying in the military and in the intelligence business. The saying is, the first information is generally wrong. I think that's true. We're in the midst of this convulsion-- cable news, the internet, tweets. Who would have ever thought about Richard Nixon tweeting? Often people ask-- will there be another Watergate? And the answer is, you don't know. The core similarity between Watergate and the Russian collusion investigation going on right now is that Watergate was built on a series of emphatic denials-- saying, when we were reporting on this, that we are practitioners of shoddy journalism, saying that we are character assassins. In the case of what's going on now, the White House and the president assert very strongly that this is fake news. This is unreliable. And so there is a whole barrage of attacks across the board. President Trump regularly uses this term fake news, which-- as best I can tell-- means he doesn't believe it or he thinks somebody made it up or it's not true. I addressed this question at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Bradlee and the editors of the Washington Post gave us the precious luxury of time to pursue all leads-- all people who might know something, even something small. Now, in 2017, the impatience and speed of the internet and our own rush can disable and undermine the most important tool of journalism-- that method, that luxury of time to inquire, to pursue, to find the real agents of genuine news, witnesses, participants, documents to dive into the .. Any president and his administration in Washington is clearly entitled to the most serious reporting efforts possible. We need to understand, to listen, to dig. Obviously, our reporting needs to get both facts and tone right. The press, especially the so-called mainstream media, comes under regular attack, particularly during presidential campaigns like this one and its aftermath. Like politicians and presidents, sometimes-- perhaps too frequently-- we make mistakes and go too far. When that hap...

About the Instructor

Bob Woodward was just 29 when he changed a nation. His Watergate reporting with Carl Bernstein helped expose the corruption of the Nixon presidency. Two Pulitzer Prizes and nineteen best-selling books later, the legendary journalist is teaching his first-ever online class for anyone who wants to find the truth. Learn to investigate a story, interview sources, and understand how the news is written. The next history-making story might be yours.

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Bob Woodward

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