Tom Brokaw: ‘News consumers can no longer be couch potatoes’

Disclosure: David Boardman, the moderator for this event, is the executive editor at the newspaper where I work, The Seattle Times.

SEATTLE — Consumers of news need to change their attitude about news consumption in an era where they’re constantly bombarded with information, former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw said at a lecture in Seattle.

The iconic TV news anchor sat down for a public lecture with Seattle Times executive editor and senior vice president David Boardman on Wednesday night at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall to talk about his career, his books, his philosophies and — of most interest to us at 10,000 Words — his thoughts on the current and future state of journalism.

“We can no longer be couch potatoes,” Brokaw said about the role of news consumers, noting that the days of reading the morning paper, afternoon paper and evening news are over. Now, there’s so much information bombarding us at all times and it’s our obligation as citizens and news consumers is to determine what’s reliable. We have more responsibility as consumers to create our own filtration systems.

The importance of institutionalized journalism by trained professionals will continue to live on in Brokaw’s eyes. He said we can’t lose sight of journalism to document what’s happening from the federal to the township level. Brokaw said he tells journalism students and other groups to always remember the”importance of preserving the culture of the place of journalism in a free society.”

Despite that very traditional view, he’s excited about the opportunities we have to create something new. He called this new era of journalism our own kind of “big bang” where planets are colliding and blowing up; we’re trying to figure out which of those “planets” can support life and whether life is worth supporting.

For more on Brokaw’s thoughts, see the collections of books he’s written.