Small Talk

Former in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ist and now Asia So­ci­ety Ex­ec­u­tive Vice-pres­i­dent Tom Nagorski talks about the chang­ing face of global jour­nal­ism in the age of so­cial me­dia

Philippine Tatler - - CONTENTS -

Asia So­ci­ety’s Ex­ec­u­tive Vice-Pres­i­dent Tom Nagorski talks about the dy­namic field of jour­nal­ism

Re­cently in the coun­try for the Asia 21 Young Lead­ers’ Sum­mit—the first time that the event has been hosted by the Philip­pines—Tom Nagorski is no stranger to ei­ther the re­gion or the fields of news and pub­lic af­fairs.

Cur­rently the ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Asia So­ci­ety, Nagorski spent the bet­ter part of three decades work­ing as a jour­nal­ist. Prior to his present stint, he was the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor for in­ter­na­tional cov­er­age at ABC News in the United States. He also served as the net­work’s for­eign ed­i­tor for its flag­ship pro­gramme World News Tonight, and also spent time as a field re­porter and pro­ducer in Rus­sia, Ger­many, and Thai­land.

An eight-time Emmy awardee and the re­cip­i­ent of the Dupont Award for ex­cel­lence in in­ter­na­tional cov­er­age, Nagorski is also the au­thor of Mir­a­cles on the Wa­ter: The Heroic Sur­vivors of a World War II U-boat At­tack. He is, at present, a mem­ber of the Coun­cil of For­eign Re­la­tions, the Ad­vi­sory Board of the Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists, and a pro­gramme ad­vi­sor to the Brook­lyn His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. He lives in Brook­lyn, NY with his wife and two chil­dren.

For you, as a former jour­nal­ist, how has the ad­vent of the in­ter­net and so­cial me­dia changed the in­dus­try, and how do you see it evolv­ing over time?

For a while, so­cial me­dia was a tool that jour­nal­ists could use to have more av­enues for in­for­ma­tion, es­pe­cially for big break­ing sto­ries.

Take the ex­am­ple of a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. Many young peo­ple to­day will never un­der­stand how 20 years ago, you would know what was go­ing on [im­me­di­ately] af­ter a ty­phoon like Haiyan or an earth­quake only if you go there your­self or call peo­ple on the phone [long-dis­tance] to get re­ports and ev­ery­thing else.

[So­cial me­dia] is a good thing [in such cases] as both jour­nal­ists and the pub­lic can re­ceive in­for­ma­tion on the cri­sis, know the needs of the peo­ple af­fected, and know how to get there or how to re­spond in the blink of an eye.

So, it be­comes a mat­ter of im­me­di­acy or ur­gency?

It’s just a [more rapid] flow of in­for­ma­tion.

I was the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor for in­ter­na­tional cov­er­age at ABC when the hor­ri­ble tsunami and nu­clear dis­as­ter hit Fukushima in Ja­pan. It took us a long time to get re­porters on the ground for what was one of the big­gest sto­ries at the time. But, in terms of in­for­ma­tion, we had a huge amount of in­for­ma­tion im­me­di­ately.

In that re­spect, so­cial me­dia is a great tool for jour­nal­ists, a great way to in­form the pub­lic, and I would like to say that [in the case of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters] you don’t usu­ally find peo­ple mak­ing up things.

But, of course, out­side of these tragedies, so­cial me­dia in jour­nal­ism can be a dif­fer­ent thing all to­gether?

Now, when you get into a whole range of other top­ics—es­pe­cially pol­i­tics—it’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent an­i­mal.

Some peo­ple who are us­ing it in clever ways, some in in­for­ma­tive ways. But, most of the time, it be­comes this gi­ant cesspool of dis­in­for­ma­tion—and I don’t quite know how to put this ge­nie back into the bot­tle.

The one sil­ver lin­ing I see—and this is good for jour­nal­ists—is that I think se­ri­ous con­sumers of in­for­ma­tion un­der­stand the value of good jour­nal­ists and equally good jour­nal­ism. The idea that there is a trusted source of in­for­ma­tion has be­come a com­mod­ity that isn’t so nor­mal any­more, to the ex­tent that it gives jour­nal­ism a lit­tle more value than it used to have. That would be a good thing—but I’m not sure if we’ve seen it yet.

The voice of ex­pe­ri­ence Tom Nagorski ad­dresses del­e­gates at the Asia 21 Young Lead­ers Sum­mit

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