Speakers Series argues current news

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Speakers Series argues current news

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Ted Koppel, world-renowned broadcast journalist and former anchor of ABC’s “Nightline,” was in town March 28 as the fifth speaker of Maryville University’s 2016-2017 St. Louis Speakers Series. Lecturing in Powell Hall, Koppel shared his journalistic perspective by singing original songs, sharing personal anecdotes that left the audience howling in laughter and expressing his serious concerns about our nation.

He began the night by talking about his worry of terrorism within the country, more specifically cyber-terrorism. Hacking any of the power grids of our country, three networks that run the entire nation’s electricity, would result in devastating consequences. We are strongly dependent on electricity for survival. Our plumbing, communication and transportation are just some of the few things that can cease to function without electricity.

Koppel explained immediately that an electricity outage in a region of the country for more than three weeks could lead to death of a population as personal wastes would build up and lack of food would increase. In fact, Koppel believes in investing in preventative measures, and that  $100 billion should be dedicated to freeze dry food for the nation.

Currently, Russia and China have access to these power grids and vice versa. Koppel stresses that his worry is not for the countries that already have the capability of hacking, but those who don’t.

Koppel believes from his experience of interviews that if groups like ISIS from countries such as Iraq and Syria could hack the power grids, they would. Currently, we have a president caught up with building a wall, but according to Koppel, what good is a wall up against cyber-terrorism?

Later into the evening, Koppel gave his take on the quality of news broadcasting  today compared to before 1987. Why 1987? That was the year the Fairness Doctrine was removed. The Fairness Doctrine was a policy enforced by the Federal Communications Commission,  known as the FCC, that required broadcasters to share their view as well as the opposite view when discussing controversial issues.

News broadcasts did not follow this doctrine perfectly, but still pretty well according to Koppel. Koppel is disappointed in the media today, because he finds that consumers are stuck within their silos of interest, ignorant of views different from their own. Individuals are generally only listening to broadcasters who share their predisposition. Therefore the news has become “more focused on ideologies than the facts”. Good news requires sources to be triple-checked and revised by an editor or producer, according to Koppel; this results in informing the public of the facts.

Hope is not lost, because although there’s “a lot of crap out there,” there’s also good quality. The prevalence of good quality depends on the consumers. We have the responsibility of seeking out the good news and not settling for “garbage” when perusing sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal or NPR, says Koppel.

While Koppel was hopeful with the audience as consumers, his opinion on where politics is headed took a different route. He couldn’t understand why anyone in this day and age would want to pursue politics.  When a 14-year-old amongst the audience asked Koppel for advice for an aspiring politician, he took a long pause and responded, “Take a course on plumbing.”

Koppel may not have the most optimistic view on politics, but if you attend next year’s season of the St. Louis Speakers Series, you could get a second opinion from one of the  speakers, Bill Clinton. Bringing in seven distinguished speakers every year from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from business and politics to arts, the St. Louis Speakers Series has something for everyone.