Former ABC News president charges journalists to go back to the basics

Former ABC News President David Westin said journalists need to maintain their basic principles in the nonstop, social media-driven news cycle. Becky Crowder | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Lauren Grady

David Westin, former head of ABC News, said at an event Thursday that journalists need to return to the basics to deliver objective content.

In a world of instant media commentary, Westin said journalists need to maintain the ethical standards the profession was founded upon and avoid making unfounded conclusions in a dash to be first with a story.

“Journalists have a tendency to draw immediate conclusions about long term trends and I’m very reluctant to do that,” Westin said.

Westin led the ABC News company from 1997 to 2010, overseeing some of the nation’s most-watched programs, including ABC World News, Good Morning America and 20/20. He released a book this May called “Exit Interview,” in which he chronicled his experience reviving and running the network.

Westin said he is unsure how social media will change in the next few years, but said audiences will inevitably have to take more of an active role in their news consumption and know what information is credible.

“We all need to be our own editors,” he said.

School of Media and Public Affairs director Frank Sesno said in an interview after the event that he wanted to bring Westin to campus because of his role shaping media coverage for one of the largest U.S. news outlets.

“[Westin] has reached, influenced and informed millions of individuals,” Sesno said.

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