Former New York Times Editor Speaks at RU

Thalmus Thomas
February 08th 2010

Communications Week here at Radford University gave students the opportunity to soak up as much knowledge as they can from experts in the field. It started on Monday, Feb. 1 when former Ad Man of the Year, Doug Burford, gave a speech on how to use advertising to do good for others.

Communications Week then turned its focus to journalism on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Students were graced by the presence of Walter F. Rugaber Jr The former editor of the New York Times in Washington delivered a speech on the future of communication.

In today’s society, digital media continues to grow. More and more publications are going online. Blogging Web sites are popping are becoming more popular, allowing ordinary citizens to become journalists.

Rugaber spoke about how newspapers are starting to lose that brand new smell they once had to the Internet. When something newsworthy happens, people tend to use the internet rather than reading the newspaper. With a digital medium like the Internet, one doesn’t have to wait to get news. One click of the mouse is all it takes to find out what’s going on in the world.

He also talked about people getting news for free vs. paying for it. People can’t read the newspaper for free, but with the Internet, you don’t have to worry about that, especially with Web sites like Twitter and Facebook that have the capability to deliver breaking-news stories.

Rugaber also stressed three points to students on how to be good journalists.

First, be skeptical of everything. This means that one should always check the information they receive. If the most credible of all sources gives someone information, make sure it’s 100 percent correct.

Second, get the facts right. Make sure all of the statistics and the spelling of a person’s name is correct, because if there’s one tiny slip-up, the whole story and credibility is lost.

And lastly, develop an intense curiosity about everything. This means that a journalist should try to dig deeper on the stories they are writing about. Try to have that one question that stands out from the rest. Go the extra mile with the person who is being interviewed.

The future of communication looks digitized. The news is delivered quickly, and just about anybody can be a reporter. Rugaber, like many in the journalism profession, understands the way news gets delivered is changing.

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