Journalists Woodward and Bernstein to Millennials: There is Still Need For Traditional Reporting


Ask a millennial to define the term “Deep Throat,” and you'll probably hear a recitation of the term's Urban Dictionary definition, which the millennial might have found as a linked post on a friend's Facebook.

According to the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism's 2012 State of the News Media, 52% of digital news consumers get their news from Facebook and Twitter. Meanwhile, print circulation continues to decline, with newspapers enhancing online content to keep them afloat. Along with print's demise arguably goes the art of reporting, something two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists are not too pleased to see.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, known for reporting on the Watergate scandal, united at Hofstra University, 40 years after exposing what led to the first presidential resignation and the public's glorification of journalism. The two shared stories of what Bernstein called working in "an aura of a different era," exposing the risks they faced, the threats they endured, and the confidants they made, including the identity of the original Deep Throat, former associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Mark Felt.   

"We were in the business of finding out what really happened, and publishing it, and continuing on the story even if it's at our own peril," said Woodward.

However, while Woodward and Bernstein exposed the faults a government could possess and severing the public's previous exaltation of political figures, people view journalism with the same amount of skepticism.

"Viewers are much more interested in seeping out information that confirms their preconceived views of the world, their political preferences, their ideology than they are in being open-minded," said Bernstein. "It makes it very difficult for people to know if information is reliable."

Despite the ability of today's journalists to use social media to get data or sources for stories, Woodward and Bernstein advocate a traditional tenant to reporting.  

"I've read some of the papers of students who say, 'Oh if it happened now, Nixon would be driven from office because all the Tweeters and bloggers would be outraged,'" said Woodward. "I think that's just wrong and naive. One of our efforts here is to talk about how we got information. We talked to people, human sources. We sat and tried to tap into their conscience."

Perhaps if millennials followed the advice of two of the 20th century's best journalists, they'd bring journalism back to what it used to be, a field dedicating to reporting the truth factually, whole-heartedly and without bias.