Political Writer Speaks at Community Forum

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At the September 29 Community Forum, the Upper School welcomed Dr. Nicole Hemmer, assistant professor in presidential studies at the Miller Center, author of Messengers of the Right, and contributing editor of U.S. News & World. Dr. Hemmer spoke to students and faculty about “The Media and the 2016 Campaign,” looking at issues such as bias in the media, how television networks influence public knowledge, and the candidates themselves. Her presentation focused around her interpretation of the five major problems with news media today: polling, ratings, pundits, balance, and trust.

“If political journalism is broken, which I think it is, it’s not just a news problem, but a democracy problem,” Dr. Hemmer noted in reference to news media and its effect on the nation as a whole.

During the presentation, she concentrated on several themes including how television ratings impact how much coverage a candidate gets over another, partisanship and “he said, she said” journalism, and how predictions are not helpful.

“I have been watching every second of this campaign, and I have no idea who will win,” she noted. “I can’t tell you what will happen.”

Before taking a few questions from the audience, Dr. Hemmer offered these three pieces advice to our students:

  • Don’t listen to predictions.
  • Seek out good writing on policies and issues you care about.
  • Read people with whom you disagree.

“We’re at critical moment in our country’s politics. We face a generational problem in media and politics,” Dr. Hemmer said. “With any luck, you’re the generation that will solve it.”

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