Lester Holt Tells Students Not to Be Afraid of Healthy Debate … ‘Our Ideological Differences Have Served Us Well’

By A.J. Katz 

This morning, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt delivered the keynote address at Howard University’s 151st Convocation, and spoke to the students about a subjects, including the importance of critical thinking, why a free press is necessary, and the importance of debate.

On critical thinking:

It feels like the pressure is greater than ever these days to pick a side and stick with it no matter what.  I call it ‘team colors.’  The problem with team colors is that they can paint us into a corner or an echo chamber where all you hear are the voices of those who hold like views.

On the role of the free press:

It is a critical pillar of our democracy. It’s there to challenge and hold the powerful accountable – to shine a light in dark places and give a voice to the voiceless. But the health of journalism also depends on an engaged news consumer who, like us, is constantly asking questions.

On ideological differences:

There are always going to be things that divide us. And things worth speaking up about. Do not be afraid of a healthy debate. Our ideological differences have served us well. Debate and disagreement are fundamental concepts of a free society and functioning democracy.  But be smart.  Don’t shoot from the hip, shoot from the brain, armed with facts and knowledge.

Then, there’s the value of a national television newscast; why it’s important to get out of Studio 3A at 30 Rock sometimes and hit the road, “and hear what’s on folks minds…Next month, we’ll be traveling, we’ll be taking the show on the road for a week. We’ll hit Tampa, Houston, Montgomery, Kansas City and San Diego,” Holt told the students.