David Greene; Reclaiming journalism

April 3, 2019

 

When David Greene asks young people where they get their news, they give him names of supposed news organizations that he doesn’t recognize. In this age when anybody can access WordPress or similar platforms, creating a “news” site has become an easy hobby for many. And for those with their own political agenda, the internet offers a democratized platform for spreading “fake news” or propaganda.

 

 “We have to work really hard to reclaim what news is and what the definition of that is,” said Greene, host of NPR’s Morning Edition. “But I think a lot of people are seeing that the media environment has gotten so insanely crowded, that they're beginning to look again for those reliable sources, and that feels like a positive course correction.”

 

But Greene underscored the importance of recognizing legitimate news sources. And regardless of the shift in today’s news media, Greene believes that the truth will always find a way to the people. “The New York Times, the Washington Post, those institutions are doing some of the best work right now than they ever have. We wouldn’t know what's happening in Washington in this administration if it weren't for papers like that doing extraordinary watchdog journalism,” he said.

 

Greene also hosts NPR’s morning news podcast, “Up First,” with Steve Inskeep and Rachel Martin.

“The model that is public radio has always been really important to our country, but it feels like it’s more important today than ever,” said Greene, who KPRG’s guest during its 25th anniversary celebration in February. “I travel to public radio communities where newspapers have fallen apart and journalists that've lost their newspaper jobs, coming to form partnerships with public radio stations to increase their staff.”

 

Greene also gave credit to Guam’s KPRG for pushing through despite hardships within the region. He noted that people crave for reliable sources of information in a moment of chaos. Greene commended KPRG general manager Chris Hartig for being able to get back on the air on Saipan after the devastating Typhoon Yutu that left the island in shambles. “That is an enormous feat. That is local journalism at its finest,” he said. “It's not just serving the community at a terrifying moment, but airing content from NPR.”

“But I think a lot of people are seeing that the media environment has gotten so insanely crowded, that they're beginning to look again for those reliable sources, and that feels like a positive course correction.”

Prior to starting his hosting career in 2012, Greene served as a foreign correspondent based in Moscow covering the region from Ukraine and the Baltics, east to Siberia, and as a White House correspondent during President George W. Bush’s second term. He is a 1998 graduate from Harvard University with a degree in government and was the recipient of the 2011 Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize from WBUR and Boston University for his coverage on the Arab Spring. He was the 38th speaker at the University of Guam’s Presidential Lecture Series, where he spoke to a crowd consisting mostly of journalism students. Responding to an audience member’s question, Greene spoke about an apparent shift in attitude in the national political scene. “What might be the significant change in Washington in the last 20-30 years is that there's no incentive to make a deal,” he said. “There aren’t those kinds of interactions that might happen in a restaurant or a bar anymore; politicians are flying home and it's sad.”

 

Greene laments the loss of civility in government. “It was more fun to cover Washington when there was more civility and greater respect for the other side,” he said. “As a journalist, I'm not pointing the finger at one side or the other. I'm just noting that Washington, D.C. is a very different place today than it was when I first arrived as a journalist.”

 

The changing newspaper landscape is another thing that Greene finds disturbing. “The number of newspaper jobs that have been lost in the U.S. in the last decade or two is just astonishing,” Greene said. “That means that there are so many communities where public officials aren't being held accountable or people aren't learning what's happening in their community from stories that are told in fair and accurate ways, but it’s more of just word of mouth and people who have a position or an axe to grind. It's really scary.”

 

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