Washington Post executive editor discusses future of journalism at FIU

More than 300 students, faculty and community members packed into the Wolfe Center Ballroom Nov. 21 to listen to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Hearst Distinguished Lecture, delivered by executive editor Marty Baron of The Washington Post.

Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, speaks at FIU

During his lecture, titled “Media, journalism and the future of news in the Digital Age,” Baron discussed his varied experiences in the field of journalism, the changes he has witnessed in the industry, and what values and skills future journalists will need to bring to the profession.

“It used to be we would hire people who could learn from us,” said Baron. “Now, we hire people who can teach us something we don’t know. And we have a lot to learn – we have to learn it fast. You have an opportunity, if you do the right things, to be one of those people our industry absolutely must have.”

Baron then sat down with Rick Hirsh, managing editor of The Miami Herald, for a 30-minute Q&A session opened to the audience for questions.

SJMC assistant professor Moses Shumow was part of the Hearst Committee that brought Baron to speak at FIU.

“With a senior position at an influential legacy media company – yet one that has recently been purchased by a leading innovator in the Internet economy – Martin Baron was an ideal candidate for the Hearst Distinguished Lecture Series,” said Shumow. “I think he was able to share with our students not only a view of the current state of a rapidly changing industry, but also reinforce the continued relevance and importance of strong journalism in the digital age.”

“I’ve always had a fondness for FIU,” said Baron. “The students come with no sense of entitlement and few, if any, inherited advantages. They come only with aspirations and the goal of achievement. They rely on hard work, ingenuity, a spirit of possibility and a determination to seize on opportunity.”

The lecture was streamed live both on the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s website and PBS’s Mediashift website to a national audience. The event was covered on Twitter by a team of student journalists working with SJMC assistant professor Robert “Ted” Gutsche Jr. Their tweets and photographs were projected onto a large screen behind Baron as he spoke.

“Having SJMC students and MAST @ FIU students run a nationally transmitted event via Twitter was a pivotal, real-world experience that our students expect from being in journalism school,” Gutsche said. “It’s an experience that makes sure they are part of the social media environment and that they leave our classrooms with practical experience of running and covering a live event.”

Baron became the executive editor of The Washington Post Jan. 2, 2013. He oversees the Post’s print and digital news operations and a staff of about 650 journalists. In 2014, The Post won two Pulitzer Prizes, one in the category of public service for revelations of secret surveillance by the National Security Agency and the other for explanatory journalism about food stamps in America.

Rick Hirsch is managing editor of The Miami Herald, where he has worked as a reporter and editor for 34 years. He is responsible for day-to-day oversight of The Herald’s news content in print and on digital platforms – desktop, tablet and mobile. He played a key role in the news organization’s shift into digital news and video, as well as the launch of its collaboration with WLRN-91.3 FM that is known as the WLRN-Miami Herald News. He also supervises newsroom training and recruiting.

The Hearst Distinguished Lecture Series, made possible by a gift from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, brings visiting communications professionals of exceptional accomplishment to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at FIU to provide insight into real-world challenges and issues.

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