Journalism today is an important public service. In the past year especially, we have seen the traditional media fail in disappointing ways to cover many of the relevant issues and to hold various people and institutions accountable. These failures constrain the agency and imagination of our communities to build a just and democratic future. The responsibility that reporters and editors are tasked with — the responsibility to keep the public informed — is gruesomely demanding but nevertheless essential. The Cornell Daily Sun is exempt neither from the challenges that journalism faces nor newspapers’ foremost obligation to serve the community.
I don’t think I really understood the insidiousness of “fake news” until I read and believed a piece of it myself. Last weekend, I was in Montreal with other Cornell students for a conference when Trump’s executive order on immigration was signed and confusion turned into logistical panic. The people running the conference went from committee to committee and addressed the ban, explained that some people might have difficulty getting back into the United States and offered their support if anyone found themselves stuck at the border. It wasn’t dramatic or political, it was to-the-point. And still, for obvious reasons, people were freaked out.
The 24-hour news cycle during an election is its own type of arms race: media outlets all want the story, they want the story first and they need to match the information of their competitors in order to win over an evolving readership. Journalism has always been motivated by this kind of competition. However, now that the news isn’t always punctuated by a print cycle, and is made boundless by the Internet, the pace has been accelerated and certain considerations are becoming sloppy. Now add the fact that new documents, WikiLeaks, have been added into the category of “what news competitors have in their arsenal” and the information arms race is brought to a level that is not only competitive, but potentially unethical. The media matters a lot in any election.
To the Editor:
The fatal attack on Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire and the futile police hunt for his killer bring to mind the still unsolved murders of nine Cornellians ― eight students and one faculty member ― who perished in the April 1967 fire at the Cornell Heights Residential Club (now Hurlburt or Ecology House). Survivors were relocated to other campus and Collegetown lodging; two of these residences suffered fires, Watermargin on May 23 and 211 Eddy Street on May 31. All three fires were confirmed to be arson attacks when evidence of fluid accelerants was found. Classes ended, the summer break came and when the fall 1967 term began the incendiary attacks were all but forgotten. The Cornell Board of Trustees had imposed a policy of official silence.
It’s been a journey. There’ve been ups and downs and many exciting moments for me as a staff writer in the Arts & Entertainment section of The Sun — ranked #1 among college papers by Princeton Review — and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything. For the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of sharing my thoughts and opinions on my favorite art form in the world, cinema, with a community of intelligent, media-savvy people who actually enjoy art. There’s no finer school in which to have a dialogue about artwork with your fellow writers, professors and peers. I made some of my best friends while covering the movie beat (still trying to match you for prolificness, Zach Zahos ’15, and you for enthusiasm, Sean Doolittle ’16) and got to participate in something very special.
The future of journalism is murkier than Beebe lake this time of year. As a writer for the college paper, I’ve been thinking about this a lot (along with the rest of the folks here). I’ve also been considering this because journalism’s future hinges on two subjects I think about often: economics and computer science. My thoughts on the issue encapsulate two ideas I’ve been writing about all semester. First, scarcity motivates so many of our daily decisions.
If “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and “a picture is worth a thousand words,” then what does that mean for video? The presence of videos in our lives, particularly in mobile and digital form has grown significantly lately. Whether we’re watching ‘Snaps,’ or YouTube, our generation is increasingly enamored with a video-first mindset when it comes to absorbing new content on all platforms. What does this mean for The Cornell Daily Sun — why should it have any bearing on us? Given the shifting landscape of content consumption towards video, it’s important to seriously consider delving deeper into video content in order to reinforce our reputation as the premier collegiate newspaper in the country. It’s ironic isn’t it?
Amjad Atallah, editor in chief of Al Jazeera America, presented “Journalism Under Fire,” a lecture focusing on the importance of journalists and freedom of the press. The lecture was this year’s installment of The Daniel W. Kops Freedom of the Press series, which has been offered for over a decade. Prof. Michael Jones-Correa, government, introduced Atallah, his high school classmate. “Amjad, in his career both at Al Jazeera and before, has given a particularly sharp perspective on free speech and freedom of the press issues, which is the purpose of the Kops lecture,” Jones-Correa said. Before becoming editor in chief, Atallah served as a regional director of the Americas for Al Jazeera Media Network and as Bureau Chief of the Americas for Al Jazeera.”
Atallah began by describing his journey through journalism as “eclectic,” saying that he has gotten to his current point based on his encounters with journalists at the beginning of his career.
Life magazine’s inaugural issue was published on Nov. 23, 1936, just four months after the start of the Spanish Civil War. For the first few weeks of its existence, the pages Life dedicated to the war in Spain were astoundingly few, especially relative to the coverage domestic and other foreign affairs received. As Life boomed and the war raged on, the magazine claimed to present a balanced account of the conflict but in reality — notably in photography — favored the fascist Nationalist forces.
Well, one more semester has come and gone. Cornellians have left campus for what seems like an ever-shortening winter break, bringing a snowy emptiness over East Hill. It’s been an eventful semester here at Cornell — between the introduction of a new financial aid policy, the opening of the new Weill Hall and President David Skorton’s visit to Iran to meet with education leaders.