Monday, February 2, 2015

Gwen Ifill at Advocacy Institute

Billed as "Politics, Policy, and Reality: What's Really Going on in Washington"
"Welcome to Washington"
"place that politicians say that they hate, hate, hate, just before they announced that they're running for President"

"I love it here"
"enough hot air being expended to support man-made climate change"
"people came here to change lives"
"make them actually hear you...get past the brinksmanship and try to get to something real"
President presents his budget today: "perfect day to watch government work and watch it grind to a halt"
"people who are accountable every day for stuff that's really important"
real admiration for people doing the hard work in city halls and county
first job was covering Boston School Committee during the 70's: would call South Boston and "ask how many chairs had been broken that day"
sat in meetings wondering what was happening
a fellow journalist suggested that I should go file a story now "because they had just fired the superintendent"
"I thought I was covering schools, and I was, but I was also covering politics"
"hard to compromise when there is no give from the other side"
"we are on the edge of our seats this year watching to see what the Supreme Court will do on same sex marriage and voting rights"
add foreign policy "and you wonder why anyone wants to be president"
people on both sides saying "compromise is the equivalent of selling out or caving in"
same as in 1995
even as the federal government went on furlough, Congress continued to get paid
many questions remain about recovery, how durable
"You will want to know if Washington is as screwed up as it looks...nothing could be as screwed up as it looks"
Journalism "not as screwed up as it looks, but you don't have to believe that"
and yes, she liked it when Queen Latifa played her on SNL
this is the time to pay attention if you think that political debate is necessary
historical echoes with dangerous potholes: little incentive to get to the middle anymore
won't use the word "compromise" but "common ground" as people hear compromise as sell-out
"we see truth as well as consequences" in government at all levels
"some real politics and philosophy involved here"
"now, all of this makes for a full employment economy for journalists"
"it's not bad that we argue; it's bad when we stop engaging"
"freedom is not the absence of restraint; it's a system of restraint" (quoting past EPA head)
"politics in Washington is often rooted in policy"
"folks in my business don't often explain it as well as we should"
"some do disappoint"
"the vast majority of politicians I've met have been honorable people who were committed to public service"
journalists "thrive on bad for the kinds of events others" dread
the "when chickens fly theory of journalism"
a chicken walks across the street, that's not news; if it flies, it would be highly unusual "and we cover the unusual"
change is possible
"news is always information, but not all information is news"
"students often tell me that they get all their news from Jon Stewart, and I have to remind them that Jon Stewart gets his news from me...and the beauty is that I asked him that" and that's what Stewart said
"there's often so much chatter and noise that it obscures the best of what we do"
"when there is a vigorous debate going on, we can't look away"
need to clarify and explain
local issues "going to be front and center in the budget that will come out today"
"challenge listen, to question, to participate...and sometimes it's even important to yell a little"
"newsmakers who come on the Newshour actually get to finish their sentences"
"the answers were never supposed to be easy"
"most of the people I've met in politics want to do it for noble reasons"
"politics determines what our future is"
"more important to understand what we do, how we do it, and why"
"living in a transformational time and we have to be on our toes"
wrote book: leaders found that "someone always told them no"
"that said, I advise you to beware magic wands"
responsibility to keep "pushing for the change that you seek"
from Winnie-the-Pooh: "one is always making unlikely discoveries"
"there always exciting discoveries right around the corner"
"I wish you luck today, particularly on Capitol Hill where you'll need it"
Q: report from MacNeil-Lehrer on who came on the you grab people how are "second or third tier"
Ifill: probably one of the more important things we do "human trap to talk to same people you've talked to before"
"is there someone out there who's more diverse, who's more representative"
"do we really want to hear only from 75 year old white guys?"
online presence is biggest growth
"how to keep it moving, how to keep it relevant"
Q: future of sequester?
Ifill: "my crystal ball is really bad..but this is going to be one of the fights"
President wants to roll back some of sequestration
"I don't know if this is going to be one of those fights"
infrastructure issues
"I don't know yet"
Q: "we're more likely to get covered by the 70's version of Gwen Ifill rather than the 20-teens version..." young person who won't be there for long
advice for us to better get our message out?
"it has to be the truth, because it always comes out"
Ifill: "you raise a very important point...newsrooms that have stopped covering local politics at all...State Houses that have stopped being covered"
"you have to figure a way around media...if you haven't a way to make Facebook be your platform...Twitter...that is a big part of your job"
Q: money in politics these days? no money but need action
Ifill: campaigns "I wish I could give you an answer on that one"
"work around it or work through it"
"it isn't always money in politics; it's what is the quid pro quo"
stories that aren't told
Q: how to expand our stories?
Ifill: be responsible to your constituents
not only students, but parents
"stories that you tell are much more compelling than just pushing for the policies"
Q: education needs a bully pulpit
"how about a hot discussion about No Child Left Behind, the testing mania, and this PARCC"
Ifill: have had discussions about those, "absolutely should do more"
Q: unprofessional reporters: "how to deal with such reporters?"
Ifill: "I don't know...have trouble figuring out what truth may have the reporters working on a deadline"
"adopt a reporter"
"have to influence the influencers"
Q: "dinner has to come before or after the Newshour"
miss journalists really trying to seek out the truth
Ifill: "usually aren't just two sides, more like five or six"
(viewers) have responsibility to seek it out: "get a lot of that information yourself"
Q: Netanyahu speaking to Congress?
Ifill: broke protocol, plus Netanyahu has an election coming up, and disagreement on Iran
"perfectly reasonable disagreements playing out"
backlash not only from White House but also among American Jews and in his domestic environment
"not sure we've seen the end of that debate yet"
Q: "agree that we're in an information age"
other influencers on textbooks, etc
"to put the correct information in front of our children"
Ifill: continuing debate
Selma has become a stand-in
"responsbility that we have to get our kids a broader understanding or where to get a broader understanding"
"if you're lazy enough not to question what people to throw at's kind of crazy"
"teaching them to have a mindset that's open enough to seek more"
Q: request not to report on shooter's name in school shootings
Ifill: "I don't think we disagree, I just don't think we can skate over First Amendment rights"
"but where's your slippery slope to the next thing we don't report on"
Qer: "but you should decide!" Ifill: "you think we all get in a room and agree?!!"
Ifill:"for example, there is general agreement that we won't show the beheadings, but that doesn't mean you can't find it"
Q: school choice and impact on school choice? Going back to segregation?
Ifill: if you think school choice is resegregating schools, I think you're wrong;
housing questions
school choice exaserbating that?
Q: public schools gets beat up in in the media: tips on how we can do a better job wonderful things
Ifill: have far more platforms than you've had before: "go over my head, if you will" by using social media

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