To the Editors,
While it’s certainly true that Edward R. Murrow would “unlikely recognize” Arianna Huffington as someone in the traditional mold of journalism (“Huffington contrasts with Murrow’s vision,” February 25), he would undoubtedly also acknowledge that this is the point of the forum at Tufts that bears his name. For the past eight years, those of us organizing this event at Tufts have worked hard to bring a variety of perspectives on the evolving state of journalism to campus. These include perspectives offered by journalists and by others who work with or are affected by them, as well as people whose political affiliations offer different perspectives. Past Murrow Forum speakers and panelists have included former Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, MA ACLU representative Arnie Reisman and many others, as well as a string of television anchors and reporters.
Yes, Arianna Huffington has been spoofed on SNL. So has Brian Williams. And Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour and some of our other Murrow Forum headliners. Being the target of late night comedy or talk shows doesn’t mean that someone isn’t doing interesting, innovative and important work. Huffington’s contributions to creating a new kind of vehicle for online news are significant. So is her position as one of the relatively few women in senior management in media.
News is dynamic. The Daily is right to suggest that “now more than ever, the lines are blurred” between news, opinion and entertainment. But to suggest that Arianna Huffington “is not entirely appropriate” to present a different kind of perspective on the changing state of news is, I believe, off the mark. Let’s remember that Edward R. Murrow, himself, was criticized for bringing entertainment into his television news work, whether through emotionally-laden documentaries like “Harvest of Shame” or through interviewing celebrities on air. More than anything, Murrow was passionate about trying to be a journalistic innovator and pushing the boundaries of what was considered “news”. We will get to ask Arianna Huffington questions about what constitutes news in the online era, as well.
Director, Communications & Media Studies Program