Ellen Goodman Talks About State of the Media

During her February 23 visit to Meredith College, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ellen Goodman shared her thoughts on the state of the media and politics.

In a speech titled, “The Political is (Too) Personal, the Media is (Too) Polarized and Television News is an Oxymoron,” Goodman argued that political coverage is now “food fight journalism.”

“Politics has become polarized and commentary has become a contact sport; it has become opinion hurling rather than opinion sharing,” Goodman said. “It has become much harder to tell the pundit from the politician, and the information from the entertainment.”

Goodman’s commentary on social change has appeared in more than 300 newspapers, making her one of the two most syndicated columnists in the United States. Her column was syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group beginning in 1976 through her retirement in early 2010.

As a “newly discharged civilian,” Goodman discussed how the political journalism has changed in her lifetime, with a much sharper focus on the personal foibles of politicians rather than their leadership abilities. Coverage has also become strongly polarized along political battle lines.

“Increasingly, we have red and blue media along with red and blue states,” Goodman said. “Voters only see two sides of an issue when people have been invited to duke it out on the roundtable opinion shows that dot the airwaves.”

In addition to the 1980 Pulitzer for distinguished commentary, Goodman has won the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award, the Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award, the Ernie Pyle Award for Lifetime Achievement, and others. Goodman worked at Newsweek, The Detroit Free Press and, in 1967, she began writing for The Boston Globe.

Goodman’s lecture was held in honor of Meredith’s Founders’ Day. Each year the campus community celebrates the anniversary of Meredith’s founding on February 27, 1891. The event was also part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Presidential Lecture Series at Meredith College. Speakers during the 2009-10 series were chosen to enhance this year’s campus theme “Catalysts for Change.”

Komen for the Cure Founder to Speak: Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of Komen for the Cure, will deliver the final Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Presidential Lecture Series event of 2009-10. Brinker will speak on April 21 at 7 p.m. in Jones Auditorium.

Date Submitted: 2010-02-23

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