Veteran broadcast journalist David Marash lambasted modern American media companies yesterday in a lecture at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.


Marash, who has worked for more than 50 years with news organizations including the Al Jazeera English global news channel and ABC News Nightline, told a crowd of about 100 people that journalists today don’t cover global events in an in-depth, intellectual way.

The lecture, titled “The Medium is not the Message,” was sponsored by the Josh Rosenthal Education Fund. The lecture series honors University alum Joshua Rosenthal, who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Instead covering world events in an in-depth way, Marash said that contemporary journalists give only a superficial overview of an event without any analysis. He specifically criticized broadcast journalism, particularly televised news, which he said is often sensational and misleading.

Marash said the inclination to sensationalize the news heightened after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Now, fewer stories from fewer parts of the world make up more and more of the American news media,” he said. “The only way to redeem that date is to learn from it, and much of what we have learned is simply false.”

Marash said American media turned inward after Sept. 11, with budget cuts requiring many news companies to call reporters back from foreign offices to cover national news.

He ended by comparing journalists to educators, saying that part of the job of a journalist is to make the general public interested in events they deem important.

“The fall for this lies with those who operate the media and those who receive the media without questioning it,” he said.

Jack Cederquist, a research engineer who attended the lecture, agreed with Marash.

“There is much more entertainment than education in news television,” he said. “Forty years ago, the news was not sensationalized.”

Philip Rogers, a first year student in the Public Policy master’s program, said he was surprised by some of Marash’s statements.

“For a journalist, he was very hostile toward journalism,” Rogers said. “He really stressed the idea of institutional ignorance.”

— Emmy Kirksey contributed to this report.

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