Barack Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was entertaining and included some poignant notes on the challenges to journalism today.
Highlights on what he plans to accomplish in the next hundred days:
“During the second hundred days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first hundred days”
“In the next hundred days, I will strongly consider losing my cool”
“Finally, I believe that my next hundred days will be so successful I will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.”
And on the serious side:
“I want to end by saying a few words about the men and women in this room whose job it is to inform the public and pursue the truth. We meet tonight a moment extraordinary challenge for this nation and for the world, but it is also a time of real hardship for the field of journalism. Like so many other businesses in this global age you’ve seen sweeping changes in technology and communications that lead to a sense of uncertainty and anxiety about what the future will hold… I know that each newspaper and media outlet is wrestling with how to respond to these changes and some are struggling simply to stay open and it won’t be easy. Not every ending will be a happy one. But it is also true that your ultimate success as an industry is essential to the success of our democracy. It is what makes this thing work.
“Thomas Jefferson once said that if he has a choice between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, he would not hesitate to choose the latter. Clearly, he did not have cable news to contend with, but his central point remains. A government without newspapers, a government without a tough and vibrant media of all sorts is not an option for the United States of America.
“I may not agree with every with everything you write or report, I may even complain… but I do so with the knowledge that when you are at your best, then you help me be at my best. You help all of us, who serve at the pleasure of the American people, do our jobs better, by holding us accountable, by demanding honesty, by preventing us from taking shortcuts and falling into easy political games that people are so desperately weary of. That kind of reporting is worth preserving, not just for your sake, but for the public’s. We count on you to help us make sense of a complex world and tell the stories of our lives the way they happen. We look to you for truth, even if it is always an approximation…”