Business, Politics & Society

The State of Journalism

Bob Woodward

Lesson time 6:57 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.

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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...


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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.



Reviews

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

This one of the best classes I've take. "Be a human being first" this class not only applies in journalism it also applies in so many areas of your life.

Facts are important. Getting a story out first may be a goal, but getting the story correct is most important.

Highly enjoyed this course. Thank you for offering it. I gained a new perspective.

Love! Amazing! Elegant! So much knowlege and insight. I thrive on unearthing those ah ha moments and had one like every... few minutes :)


Comments

Linda B.

Wonderful series of talks - I enjoyed it immensely and learned a tremendous amount of unexpected knowledge.

Angela K.

It was an honor to take this class. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us

Ann S.

This has truly been a Master class. If a journalist follows Bob Woodward's teachings, s/he will have fewer regrets at the end of the career. Journalism is a tightrope when pursuing hard news, and I can't think of anything he left out that could have made it better. But then, he is the master at teaching ethics in a work that uncovers unlawful, unethical acts. My stories were just on a community level, and mostly upbeat profiles, but everything he said applies to all stories involving people and their decisions about public policy. Reporters get to see how much is hidden and unlawful at all levels of government from the top down to school boards and

Stewart M.

A great journalist, thanks for your insight and point of view. Especially on source material.

Aiden B.

Amazing course. Love Bob Woodward. Am going to make my (teenage) children watch this; not to learn about journalism, but to learn about life.

A fellow student

How often are a journalist's normal efforts in saying what the President said replaced by the President's tweets?

Samuel P.

I have loved this course! The integrity of its author has restored my faith in journalism and I have gleaned so much.

Iana Z.

This is not my field of work, but I have learned a tremendous amount. Thank you <3

Pamela K.

Dear Mr. Woodward -- you may never see this, but thank you for this compelling class to see how a real "Master" works. Regular people like myself would ordinarily never get the chance to learn from someone with your experience, insight and generosity. And thank you -- for always going after the leads. Thank god for a free press in this country -- one of the things that makes us great. Thank you.

Gary S.

Bob Woodward is a generous and wise teacher. I am also from Wheaton, Illinois.