Journalists share thoughts on trade in lecture series

Chronicle Staff

By Shayna Freisleben

Newsweek Magazine’s Los Angeles Bureau Chief Andrew Murr (Hank ’09) told parents at the Parents’ Association Lecture Series on Nov. 14 that the public questions the truthfulness and motivations of journalists.

The Parents’ Association hosted a panel of journalists at the series to discuss “how we know what we know.”

Moderated by Chronicle adviser Kathleen Neumeyer, the panel included Murr; former news anchor and current president of a Latino multimedia company Michele Ruiz and political blogger and analyst André Pineda, who lists  presidential candidate Bill Richardson as a client. The journalists fielded questions from Neumeyer, parents and three Chronicle members.

“The public is skeptical about the motivations of newspaper journalists,” Murr said. “There’s an effort to make people feel safe in what they’re reading.”

The panel discussed the influences of journalism in different situations, whether preceding a presidential election, or in the realm of local television news.

“With a blog, there’s an agenda to help the candidates,” Pineda said. “You can use a blog to put poll results out there, and that can influence an election and the candidates running.”

Pineda recounted an instance when he published poll results on his blog that prompted an opposing candidate to drop out of the race. Blogs can shed light on leading and trailing candidates, affecting the outcome of the race, he said.

Ruiz described anecdotes from her time as a broadcast journalist and told the audience about the producers’ influence over the content in a news broadcast, either for ratings or a more visually pleasing story.

“News is ultimately a business,” she said. “News channels want people watching and decisions are made to attract more viewers.”

Murr faces the task of nationalizing local stories and catering to a diverse readership.

“In a national newsmagazine, the storytelling component is more difficult than local TV news,” Murr said.

He addressed the changing face of news, with the influence and accessibility of the internet and the difficulty of finding credible news sources.

“You must find the right experts because there are multiple sides to every story,” he said. “Somebody can sound like they know what they’re talking about and completely dominate a story.”

Pineda discussed the influence of bloggers in the upcoming presidential election.

“People are fascinated with politics much earlier than normal,” he said. “Serving as a pollster, you can definitely change the scope of the election.”