The Reassurance of Dean Baquet

When I went into the Foster-Foreman Conference, I didn’t expect it being so interesting.  I thought that I’d be fighting to stay awake and be doomed when it came to writing this blog post and the article.  It was the exact opposite.  There have been very few speakers that have caught my attention like Dean Baquet.  The wisdom of journalism as a craft that he shared with everyone in that room was amazing.  He wasn’t arrogant, he didn’t speak as if he was the all mighty guru of journalism and he was just a flat out personable guy.

One of my favorite moments of the conference was when he began speaking and the microphone wasn’t working.  He started talking and praising Gene Foreman and no one in the back could hear him.  When they fixed the problem he summed up what he was saying with a simple, “Gene’s a good guy.”  I thought that was hilarious and it really put some energy into the room.

His outline of advice for young journalists was:

  • Learn history.
  • Understand the difference between building a career and building a craft.

    Dean Baquet during the Q&A portion.

    Dean Baquet during the Q&A portion.

  • Read, read, read and never stop.
  • Don’t get caught up in ambitions and just be a journalist.

The biggest, most reassuring thing he said to all of us aspiring journalists in the room was “You;re entering a profession at a great time……you’re going to have a blast.” As communications majors we are always told how we can’t get jobs with a communications degree, we have the easiest major and that we never go into journalism for money.  Dean Baquet made none of that matter when he spoke.  He reassured my passion for journalism as a craft and helped make the negatives not really matter.

Honing a Craft and Future with Baquet

6a00e5520895f58833013487c34250970c-320wiInstead of having class for the next hour, we were allowed to go down to Heritage Hall to see the managing editor of New York Times, Dean Baquet, talk to us about the field of journalism and educate us on what to expect ahead.

Honestly, I did not expect much going into the conference. I saw it as an opportunity to relax and basically have a free day out of class. But after a nice introduction from the head of the communications department, Dean Baquet continued to breathe out of fresh air to all journalist students sitting in that room.

“Uncertainty has been a part of the newsroom longer than I would like to admit.” As an aspiring journalist with a knowledge of uncertainty of the career path that he is chosen, it was the most refreshing and encouraging part of the entire conference. Just as Neil Young told us that “rock n roll will never die,” Baquet’s words seemed to echo the rockstar’s very own.

Reassurance is a very important and well, reassuring word for me. “I am jealous of you guys as you enter journalism at a very exciting time.” As Baquet continued to further explain the bright future of journalism, I began to learn what being a journalist can actually be like. With social medias such as Facebook and Twitter emerging, there is endless possibilities and opportunities that has opened up for the us future journalists. With advice to explore the world, not get caught up in the newsroom, and continue reading, it was very cool to see how he treated and enjoyed such a time consuming job.

The field of journalism requires knowledge and commitment to your job, but also comes with a hint of uncertainty. People have been saying rock n roll has been dead since The Beatles split up and people have reiterated similar words about journalism as long as we can remember. That being said, seeing Dean Baquet’s success in the business and listening how he does it, gave me confidence for my future.

Transforming the Transformable

We know it’s not a whisper around town that people say journalism is a dying breed. You can pretty much go anywhere and hear the problems of journalism falling out of the media, or being run into the ground, or losing its grip on society. Honestly, even as an aspiring journalist myself, somewhat believed the rumors I’ve heard. I didn’t want to, but, unfortunately, it started to sink in.

That is, until I was able to hear Dean Baquet speak at the Foster-Foreman Conference about a week ago. I was stunned by some of the things that Baquet directly said about the present and future of the media. I couldn’t imagine some of the things he said coming out of his mouth. I was pleasantly surprised, however.

Picture's worth a thousand words.

Picture’s worth a thousand words.

Baquet, straightforwardly said that he was, “Jealous,” of perspective journalism that were just coming into the field today. How could a man be jealous of students who were going into a “dying breed”, an industry that may not last too long? And then it hit me. Maybe, just maybe, journalism isn’t as problematic as we thought. Maybe, we can not only prosper, but thrive, in this industry.

Possibly my favorite quote, and the reason that it sits in my title, reads, “You have the chance to transform a craft that needs transformation.” That stuck with me. A craft. I really never thought of it that way. The fact that not only are we joining journalism to start a career, but to also hone a craft. Baquet, being a great speaker, didn’t stop there. He gave incredible advice, stating, “Take a job that will let you learn and listen,” and so much more.

I didn’t know what to expect when it came to this conference. I had never been to a speech such as this. I was incredibly surprised and impressed with the way Baquet carried himself, spoke directly and respectfully, and made sure he left a lasting impression on every student in attendance.

It was great to get insight, and more importantly reassurance, on the situations and future that surround journalism. Baquet even believes he can, “Foresee a time, that may be already upon us, where we know exactly what’s ahead of us.” It’s great to know what’s ahead of us, even if it’s problematic, because going into our future knowing what’s ahead of us is majorly better than not knowing at all. We, at least, have a vision for the future.

The Happy Future of Journalism

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I am very glad that I was able to listen to Dean Baquet, who is the managing editor of The New York Times, speak at the Foster-Foreman Conference.  When our COMM 260 class got there I was really worried that I was going to have to hear a depressing speech about the sad future of the journalism industry.  Instead, Baquet has changed my mind about that.

 His speech gave me hope for not only the journalism industry, but also all other types of industries in America. If everyone listened to Baquet they will be given hope! The main point of his speech was to show the journalism students, who were present at the conference, how many opportunities are given to them.

When he got to the stage, Baquet talked to everyone with such enthusiasm! He actually said, “I’m envious of your age.” This made me realize how lucky my generation is to have such technological advancements.  I now feel bad for reporters before the Internet; they must have spent hours in the library searching for background information.

Baquet not only made the students at the conference proud of their generation, he also gave them tips on how to preserve the craft of story telling. His five tips were: take the job that will help you listen and report; learn history; understand the difference between building a career and honing a craft; read, read, read and never stop reading; and finally don’t get so caught up with your ambitions and aspirations that you miss experience.

I feel my opinion of the journalism industry has changed for the better from listening to this great man speak. He showed me that the journalism industry is not just full of people that think timeliness is more important than if it’s correct. This industry is actually full of men and women who would like to preserve the craft of story telling.  I find this to be beautiful because in this fast paced world there are still people out there that understand the real meaning of being able to write well.

Thank you Lori for taking us to see Baquet! Now I have a question for my fellow classmates, did you agree or disagree with his company’s policy with withholding information from the public because the government asked them to?  I agree on the fact that it will protect people, but what if it is extremely important person that public needs to know about?

 

Picture from: http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/keller-gets-his-man-fired-lat-editor-dean-baquet-joins-nyt-as-d-c-bureau-chief_b4274

A Nice Surprise From Dean Baquet

I can speak for almost anybody when I say that when I heard Dean Baquet speak in the Foster-Forman Conference on the 29th, I walked out of there with a uplifting feeling that the field of journalism is not a just a field that is fading, but one that is rising.  The way that Baquet spoke about the future of journalism was revitalizing to a young journalist in the making because of his optimism towards the future of the field. It was nice assurance to know that my career could blossom when he said, BaquetDean “This is a great time to enter the world of journalism”. Especially in economic times like these, for the managing editor of the New York Times to say that is reassuring.

One thing that really caught my attention during Baquet’s speech is when he spoke about what his biggest fear would be in the field of journalism. “My biggest fear and only fear with the ability to do things unimaginable. It won’t be the newspaper that will die, the craft of reporting and witnessing will be lost.  I learned to report by trial and error.” I took this comment as an important aspect to pay attention to while growing as a journalist. He surfaces a valid point; us journalists need to be eager, and prepared witnesses in the midst of the action.  That is when we can truthfully report a respectable analysis, and not just sitting in a desk chair waiting for a phone call.

I walked into the Foster- Forman conference with one big misconception about the field of journalism. I viewed journalism as a very competitive field. I thought that ethics were completely thrown out the window when it came to who reported the best story first. When Baquet answered a question regarding whether to publish or not to publish a debatable topic with immense competition. He responded by saying “ Your ethics are your ethics…if your competition choses to do it; that’s their ethics… if you change your ethics nobody will know who are you”.  After Baquet answered this question, it put a smile on my face. It is really great thing to know that a paper as big as The New York Timesdoes not throw their morals our the window, they stay true to what they believe is the right news to report whether their competitor may report it instead of them or not.

Baquet came into the conference, spoke about many journalistic values and what we have to look forward to in our careers as journalists. It was a great conference to listen to, especially to stay enthusiastic about the forthcoming events in my career.

WE ARE… future journalists!

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On the day the Government shutdown, Dean Baquet, managing editor of THE New York Times, still held his speech in a room full of thankful students and faculty, waiting for his arrival. It was cool to know the New York Times could handle it while he was gone– what an honor it would be to write for that paper. 

Dean Baquet praised the entire room, giving us a true wake-up call– reminding us all why we have come to THE Pennsylvania State University.  “I’m envious of your age; you will be able to do things I never could.”  He expressed that we have the power literally at our fingertips with today’s technology to be successful, and influential writers who love their jobs. This was a great reminder. And even though we should aim for big news organizations, if that doesn’t happen or at least not right away, we can still make a name for ourselves through this new technology.

And with that reminder, it also made me realize how much we really do need to take advantage of social media and blogs, as future journalists. I’ve never heard that as much as I have in the last two months and I have to admit, I don’t really want to change in that aspect. I feel somewhat negative towards social media, which is why I didn’t have a Twitter before this class and don’t want to make an Instagram and so on… that and I feel like it’s kind of redundant once you have one, why do you need to be a member of all social media sites… But each one has a different focus and it’s interesting to learn the potential of each [for our specific career]. So, I plan to change my thinking regarding social media… slowly… but surely. 

Baquet coming to our university did nothing but re-energize my life-long interest in the New York Times– a dream of having some sort of affiliation with the paper as part of my career; an absolute DREAM.

In a college full of so many majors, it was refreshing to be around peers who speak the same language, want the same things and care about the same things. And to top that, hear from Dean Baquet speak of our industry in such a positive and refreshing light. 

I don’t know about you all, but Baquet made me feel important as a future journalist, with the “craft” it is, like we can each be some sort of superhero wherever we end up, just by reporting the news professionally. People knock our industry and even our major like it isn’t serious or hard just because we don’t deal with engineering classes, but he was right– it is a craft and not everyone can do it. “Embrace the public service emblem of journalism– because that IS what it is.”

I hope each of you felt the same inspiration I did. 

 

The Baquet School of Journalism

baquet1How could you not be excited about entering the world of journalism after hearing Dean Baquet’s speech and interview at the 29th Foster-Foreman Conference? Not only did he touch upon major ethical questions and dilemmas seen in journalism, but he also passionately made a case for the future of the industry. With plenty of personal experiences to back up his statements, he successfully proved his knowledge and understanding in the field, and it was a wonderful opportunity to hear him speak.

Baquet had many words of wisdom throughout his time on stage – probably enough to fill a whole notebook page – but there were a couple that really had a big impact on me. First, at one point he said, “Don’t get so caught up in your aspirations that you miss the process of becoming a journalist.” Immediately this quote stuck out to me because I always thought the best journalist is the one who IS always caught up in their work and dreams of being the best. But, Baquet made it clear that it is more important to actually progress as a journalist and learn the right way of doing things, rather than being so caught up with “making it big” that you will do whatever it takes – even if it is unethical – to do so. There ended up being a lot of talk on this matter, and it led to the discussion of whether or not to publish information if it is not completely verified. Obviously, the decision differs based on the specifics of that particular story, but in general, Dean Baquet said it best, “Your ethics are your ethics, and they don’t change.” There is a very powerful meaning behind such simple words and there is a lot of truth in them as well. If you stay true to yourself, and your morals, then you will always know what decision to make.

bigstock-Changes-Ahead-39806335-300x198 On top of just talking about journalistic values and ethics, Baquet also was able to explain why he thinks right now is “just the right time” to enter the profession. He talked about how the world of journalism is definitely changing, but because we are the younger generation and we grew up around it, we have an upper-hand on the older competition. Also, he thinks that the possibility of video and multimedia being integrated into news stories is revolutionizing and could “completely transform the art of narrative journalism.” All of this was very nice and settling to hear, and also very rare to hear coming from an adult. In my experience with older professors and writers it always seemed that they were talking about how journalism is “dying” and how no one reads anymore. So, hearing Baquet’s side of the issue was very interesting and it definitely made me more hopeful for the future of the industry.

After hearing everything that Baquet had to say, I truly feel like I grew as a journalist, and I certainly feel more motivated to get out there and start reporting!