The Real Problem in the News Business | Robert Krulwich | Google Zeitgeist

The Real Problem in the News Business | Robert Krulwich | Google Zeitgeist


>>Robert Krulwich: The real problem in the
news business like all mature business is that they found a routine that’s a deep routine,
a way of doing business and a way of seeing the world.
So I will tell you what it’s like. On a typical morning, you go to the news meeting and they
go around the room and say, Okay, what do you got? And the reporters and the editors,
they pitch. “I got the governor’s press conference.” “I got the three-alarm fire.” “I got a pennant
race.” “I got a murder.” It comes to me and says, I’ve got the fart story.”
It may not be fair, but the room goes a little quiet and they give me that look. But I know
just as I knew here, I know what I’m doing and I know it’ll be good.
And at the morning meeting at 10:00 in the morning when the day is young, your special
story is often the favorite because governors come and go but a fart collapse, very unusual.
You talk about it all day. But what happens around the noon, the governor
gives a slightly interesting press conference and you have to do it because the competitors
are going to do it. There is a burglary. You got to do that.
There is a fire. You got to do that. There is a tornado warning. You got to do
that. Slowly but surely you watch your precious
story drop lower and lower on the scad list of stories they are going to do.
And by about 3:00 or 4:30, you hear it go kerplunk and it drops off the list. We’ll
do it tomorrow, they say, because after all, it happened 10,000 years ago. You’re like
yeah, yeah. But then the next day the same thing happens.
So peter once asked me, “What do you do here anyway?” I said, “Well, what you do is ‘This
just in,’ ‘This just happened,’ ‘He just got elected,’ ‘He just got shot.'”
I do “this always is,” stories that are sitting right in front of us all the time. We don’t
know about it. And I happen to think that “this always is” is just as interesting as
“this just in.” And I’m convinced, totally convinced, that
you can mix science and mystery and complexity into a news show with ease and success. And
partly to prove it a bunch of years ago with an amazing partner, Jad Abumrad, who was recently
by the way pronounced a genius by The MacArthur Foundation, we created this show called RadioLab.
It is a podcast and radio show. It has gotten really popular. Some of you —
[ Applause ] And what we do on this show is we try — we
try to break or at least experiment with some very basic journalism rules. Normally if a
reporter gets a story, what you do is you interview people, you learn what you are doing,
you get your research down, you write your copy, you check your copy, you check your
facts. And when everything is known and checked and ready, you go on the air and you say “Let
me tell you what I know.” We don’t do that. Instead of telling you what
we know, we tell people what we don’t know. And we do our reporting and out learning right
in front of our audience. So we argue. We make mistakes. We interview people. We try
to figure out what they have just said. And it creates a kind of edginess because you
watch us learning.

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