New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman spoke Monday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater about her experiences covering the Trump administration as a White House correspondent.
Haberman was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2018 for its coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. She spoke about President Trump’s relationship with the press and the need for journalists to strive for accuracy and truth in their reporting, especially when holding those in power accountable.
She said she was always interested in writing. But she originally wanted to write fiction, not news. Now, separating fact from fiction has become her life’s work as a journalist.
“It’s vital to take time to determine what is real and what is not, even if it means we lose a scoop or a story,” she said. “No one is ever going to remember who got certain stories right, but they certainly remember who got them wrong.”
The Media School partnered with the Indiana Center on Representative Government and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research to bring Haberman as part of the Media School’s Speaker Series.
Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton presented Haberman with the Lee H. Hamilton Public Service Fellowship for her work. She is the eighth recipient of the fellowship since its launch in 2012.
Hamilton said he wanted to recognize Haberman because of her investigative work on Russian interference in the election. He said this is especially crucial because investigative journalism is becoming increasingly difficult due to the vast resources it can require.
“I want to call attention to people who are doing it and doing it well,” Hamilton said in an interview.
After the lecture, Haberman fielded questions from the audience made up of IU students and Bloomington residents. When asked her personal feelings about the president and vice president, she declined to answer. Instead, she replied with facts and observations.
“I will not get into my personal feelings on any of this because they’re not relevant,” she said.
Hamilton said the event was an opportunity for journalism students to see someone “at the top of the game” speak in Bloomington.
Andrea Vega, an IU senior studying journalism, said she wanted to hear from someone working as a journalist as she nears graduation and looks toward entering the field herself.
“Having someone from such a prominent news outlet come and talk to us about really pressing issues is something I think both journalism and non-journalism students can benefit from,” she said. “It’s a really important conversation to have.”
Haberman said media literacy is one of the most important things young people should learn, even at the grade school level. She also urged young journalists to start developing relationships with sources while in college, even if just on a local level at city council meetings.
“Talking to people, at the end of the day, is the most vital thing a journalist can do,” she said.
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