Robison Lecturer Dr. Todd Gitlin Addresses Students and Faculty

July 1, 2010

Dr. Todd Gitlin, author of twelve books, and former columnist to the New York Observer and San Francisco Examiner, spoke at the Robison Endowed Lectureship Series on October 21. Gitlin, who holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, spoke on "A Glut of Crises: Journalism and the Prospects for Democracy."

Gitlin discussed the five crises in which journalism finds itself in modern times:  deterioration in circulation of newspapers, the decline in advertisement revenue, a shrinkage in news reporting, the scattering of attention, the debacle of authority and journalism's inability to receive the public's trust. Gitlin feels that the contributing failure of the newspaper industry is the Internet. "One would think that news is far from dead with blogs, facebook, and twitter. But the nuts and bolts of international, national, and local news are not on the Internet." He continued to say, "The newspaper exited 2008 harrowingly and entered 20089 in something perilously close to freefall. Perhaps some parachutes will deploy and maybe some tree limbs will cushion the descent, but the bottom is not in sight."

Gitlin believes that "there is no golden age to reinstate in journalism." There is really no way to solve our journalistic problems " "they can only be managed." Gitlin left the audience with the quote from Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

The Robison Endowed Lectureship Series was established by the late Mary Leslie Robison to bring distinguished journalist and journalism educators to BU. A reception for Dr. Gitlin was held in the Student Center following the lecture.