President of CBS News talks state of media in Trump’s America

Media Credit: Max Wang | Staff Photographer

Frank Sesno, the director of the School of Media and Public Affairs (left), discusses the state of media under the Trump administration with CBS News President David Rhodes in the Marvin Center Thursday.

Three top CBS News officials discussed the state of news organizations in the age of social media and Donald Trump at the Marvin Center Amphitheater Thursday.

David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, was joined by alumni Reena Ninan, a CBS News correspondent and anchor, and Mosheh Oinounou, the executive producer of CBS Evening News. The event, hosted by the School of Media and Public Affairs, was moderated by SMPA Director Frank Sesno.

Rhodes said CBS News’ main priority is always to produce serious, quality news – especially amid today’s crowded and loud news environment.

“A lot of success in television, certainly television ratings, is meeting or exceeding the audience’s expectation,” Rhodes said. “But the expectation is different from organization to organization.”

Rhodes, Ninan and Oinounou spoke about the challenges of producing quality news in a fast-paced social media environment. Oinounou said there is a growing need to provide context in news reports because people often check social media when news breaks – but they don’t know what the information means or how it relates to previous events.

“We live in a world now where you know the ‘what.’ You have a TweetDeck open where, literally, depending on how many accounts you’re following, it could be moving at 10 miles per hour,” Oinounou said. “For me, I think it’s much more important in a day and age where people are inundated to tell people what it means.”

Ninan said the traditional news cycle has also been turned on its head under the Trump administration, since news stories can break at any hour.

“In previous administrations, you know, ‘this is the week on immigration, we’re gonna focus on immigration, we’re gonna get our guess with immigration,'” Ninan said. “Doesn’t work that way with this White House. You don’t know on any given day what you’re going to get.”

Rhodes told the audience that even though there are widespread efforts to discredit mainstream media, the best response “to defend American journalism and to promote the kind of values you’re talking about is by doing it.” He said responding to the attacks only makes them more powerful.

“There is a commercial proposition behind those attacks, and they can deliver on it much more if we actually get down into it,” he said.

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