Journalist Ben Yagoda discussed the current state of journalism over lunch at the Kelly Writers House this Feb. 12.
Yagoda visited the Writers House as a part of an ongoing speaker series funded by a donation from 1962 College graduate Maury Povich. This fund goes toward the Writers House's Povich Journalism Program and serves to foster and support the pursuit of an education in journalism on campus. Penn writing professor Dick Polman moderated the conversation.
Yagoda is a journalist, author, and film critic who has written for magazines “that start with every letter of the alphabet except K, Q, X, and Z,” said Polman. He is currently a professor of journalism at the University of Delaware and previously was an editor at Philadelphia Magazine.
The event discussed Yagoda's experience in how journalism has changed in recent years. Because of the current political climate, credibility, and accuracy in journalism are now more pressing issues than ever, he said.
His talk was split into a conversation between Yagoda and Polman, and then an open question-and-answer session with the audience. Polman and Yagoda focused on the subject of the struggles reporters face in the modern age.
“Outside of 24-hour reporting...being a political reporter is a tougher job than it’s ever been,” Yagoda said.
In this, Yagoda is referring to a journalist’s need to “fact check on the fly” in order to avoid misreporting and the subsequent consequences of being labelled as a "fake news" source. Polman added that “everyone attacks you on Twitter if you don’t [fact check]."
Yagoda also emphasized the flexibility and dynamism of the journalism field.
"Journalism doesn’t give you a license like a CPA; there’s no set standard so there’s no right answer,” Yagoda said.
College junior Emily Schwartz attended the lunch and said she enjoys events like these that the Writers House hosts. Polman is also a professor of a class she's currently taking.
She added that she thinks the conversation offered a "fresh perspective" on journalism.
Yagoda ended the talk with advice for young journalists, advising them to “align yourselves with responsible, reputable organizations."
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