Hoover Media Fellow Walter Pincus Speaks on the Role of Journalists

Friday, April 7, 2006

"It's clear that the newspapers feel they are in trouble," said Walter Pincus, writer for the national news staff of the Washington Post, in a talk on the role of journalists on April 3. In his talk "Whither or Is It Wither: The Press, Television, and Radio News." Pincus pointed out that people are getting their news from other sources, such as radio, television, and even cell phones. No longer the primary source for breaking news, now people go to newspapers to find out why something is happening.

Pincus also is concerned that how journalists view themselves has changed. "Crusading reporters are out," he said. But he believes that this is an important role for the media in society, arguing that it's necessary for the media to take facts to members of the public that they need to perform their civic obligations.

At the Post, Pincus has written about a variety of national news subjects including nuclear weapons and arms control, political campaigns, the U.S. hostages in Iran, and investigations of Congress and the Executive Branch.

For six years he covered the Iran-contra affair. He was also a part-time consultant to NBC News and later CBS News, where he developed, wrote, and produced television segments for network evening news, magazine shows, and documentaries.

Pincus has won several awards including a Pulitzer Prize in 2001, which he shared with others for stories about Osama bin Laden. He was awarded the first Stewart Alsop Award for national security and intelligence reporting by the Association of Foreign Intelligence Officers; the George Polk Award for stories appearing in the Washington Post that exposed the neutron warhead, the Page One Award for magazine reporting in The Reporter, and a television writing Emmy for a one-hour program on CBS.

The event was sponsored by the William and Barbara Edwards Media Fellow Program of Hoover Institution and the Stanford Alumni Association.

The Edwards Media Fellows Program allows print and broadcast media professionals to spend time in residence at the Hoover Institution. Media fellows have the opportunity to exchange information and perspectives with Hoover scholars through seminars and informal meetings and with the Hoover and Stanford communities in public lectures. As fellows, they have the full range of research tools the Hoover offers available to them. More than 100 of the nation's top journalists have visited the Hoover Institution recently and interacted with Hoover fellows on key public policy issues, including

  • Terry Eastland, Weekly Standard (in residence April 3–7)
  • Deroy Murdock, Scripps Howard (April 3–7)