NYT chief pro­motes art of rhetoric

At Athens Democ­racy Fo­rum, Mark Thomp­son ex­plores fail­ing trust in pol­i­tics, me­dia

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

In a dis­cus­sion with Kathimerini’s ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor Alexis Pa­pachelas on the third day of this year’s Athens Democ­racy Fo­rum yes­ter­day, the president and CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thomp­son, ex­plored the chal­lenges posed by fail­ing pub­lic trust in politi­cians and the me­dia.

In the dis­cus­sion, which took place at the Stavros Niar­chos Foun­da­tion Cul­tural Cen­ter, Thomp­son spoke ex­ten­sively about the “lost art of lis- ten­ing” and in­voked Aris­to­tle’s art of rhetoric.

“The great in­sti­tu­tion that was cre­ated in this city was pre­cisely the idea you have to lis­ten to ideas you think are re­pel­lent and wrong,” he said. The im­pulse to cen­sor, he said, is “pro­foundly danger­ous.”

The prob­lem with po­lit­i­cal dis­course to­day, he said, is “that peo­ple speak with­out lis­ten­ing.”

When cit­i­zens feel the po­lit­i­cal elite is not lis­ten­ing, “they find some­one who will lis­ten,” he said. That is how pop­ulism came about, he ex­plained, de­scrib­ing Brexit as “the worst pub­lic pol­icy de­ci­sion in Bri­tain in the past three or four cen­turies.”

As re­gards US President Don­ald Trump, Thomp­son said he did not be­lieve he “has a spe­cific agenda.” He said he be­lieved the president, who has re­peat­edly crit­i­cized The New York Times’ cov­er­age, is a reader of the news­pa­per’s print edi­tion, judg­ing by the tim­ing of his post­ings on Twit­ter.

“This is the mo­ment for jour­nal­ism,” Thomp­son said, call­ing on re­porters to have the courage to ex­plain what is go­ing on in the world. “The means of pro­duc­tion have never been bet­ter, you have ev­ery­thing you need for good mul­ti­me­dia con­tent on your smart­phone. Start do­ing it!” he said.

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