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According to Howard Fineman, critics of the new media may not be seeing the whole picture.

Fineman’s talk on Tuesday evening at the Kelly Writers House addressed criticisms of modern journalism and its impact on American politics. Fineman’s public lecture was also the third session is a three-part mini-course he taught at the Writers House this fall.

Like professor Dick Polman, who introduced the presentation, Fineman has his roots in print media. He worked as a correspondent at Newsweek magazine for thirty years and continues to work as a correspondent with NBC News and MSNBC.

Last month, Fineman underwent what he called a “paradigm shift” when he took on the role of senior politics editor at The Huffington Post.

Though Fineman has had an online journalistic presence for over a decade, he said this is a “whole different ball game.”

Before, “I’d write the piece, send it out into the ether and never hear about it again,” he said. “You occasionally would get a call from somebody or some comments here and there, but it was only a trickle of response, generally speaking.”

Now, Fineman’s articles for The Huffington Post can generate upwards of 10,000 reader comments.

This new audience-driven news model, as well as the increasing preference for cable pundits over broadcast news, has spawned many critics.

Fineman specifically addressed recent critiques from Ted Koppel and Jon Stewart.

In a Nov. 14 Washington Post column, Koppel heralded “the death of real news,” attacking bias and partisanship in modern media.

At the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” last month, Jon Stewart was likewise critical of the “24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator,” as he put it.

Though Fineman agrees that there are “serious questions” to be raised with contemporary journalism, he sees great positive potential as well.

“The trick is to capture the energy of conflict without letting it blow us apart,” he said.

Fineman said it is important for modern media consumers to be able to discern fact from fiction.

“We have a cornucopia of sources — a whole big banquet of everything from left to right,” he said. “It’s an amazing thing, but it takes education to take advantage of it.”

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