Schieffer, CBS News political contributor and former host of Face the Nation, entertained the audience in the Willie Miller Instructional Center auditorium on the Daytona Beach Campus as part of Embry-Riddle’s SpeakER Series with director and moderator Marc Bernier.
Schieffer said the public has access to more information than at any given time in history, stating that the technological revolution is having as much impact as the invention of the printing press.
He asked, “Are we wiser or are we simply overwhelmed with so much information that we can’t process it? I believe we’re overwhelmed.”
In his new book, Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News, which he signed copies of Monday night, Schieffer provides an inside look at the changing role of the media based on interviews with more than 40 media leaders.
As he pointed out at the SpeakER Series event, the digital age has come at the downfall of newspapers, adding that 126 newspapers have closed in the last 12 years. In 21 out of 50 states, there is not a single newspaper with a Washington, D.C., correspondent.
About 67 percent of Americans, based on a Pew Research Center study, get some of their news from social media, which he said has not been vetted and in some cases is coming from sources including Russia.
He said it’s becoming more and more difficult to know what is a legitimate news site and what isn’t.
“We’re all a little news weary,” added Schieffer, who urged people to find reliable sources, which he outlines in his book, and not to rely on one source for their news.
“Everything out there is just not true,” he said.
A journalist for 60 years, Schieffer said he always wanted to be a reporter. But he also shared with Embry-Riddle students, staff, faculty and the public that he was planning to pursue pilot training and was enrolled in ROTC before joining the U.S. Air Force. But after being hit in the eye with a baseball his freshman year at Texas Christian University, he couldn’t pass an eye test.
He joked that the only thing he flew in the Air Force was the large steel desk where he served as editor of his base’s newspaper at Travis Air Force Base in California.
During his legendary news career, he said the top stories he’s covered were the Vietnam War, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Watergate and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
An unexpected phone call to the newsroom, for example, as a young Fort Worth police reporter had him interviewing Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother in the back seat of a car driven by a coworker as they took her to Dallas following her son’s assassination of the president.
That’s why he’s still a reporter.
“What other kind of profession could you have where you could have an adventure like that in the middle of a great tragedy,” he said.
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