James Dao, the New York Times Op-Ed Editor, came to Westminster College campus March 20 to talk with the community about the place of opinion journalism in a world filled with fake news.
In his lecture, Dao discussed his experience at NYTimes, opinion on fake news, journalism, and the difference between the news, the US government, the internet, and how opinion journalism is beneficial.
Dao talked to the audience in depth about his experience working for the New York Times. Many audience members including Diana Hardy were pleased that Dao explained the organization he worked for before diving into the meat of the lecture.
“I loved it all,” said Diana Hardy. “I thought it was really helpful to hear how much the New York Times values different opinions. It gave me a new appreciation and outlook on the whole organization.”
Hardy said after the lecture that she was thankful to hear the background of the New York Times as a whole and that it was helpful to know that the organization has all different types of columnists working within the company. She said this made her want to expand her outlook and read more different columns.
James Dao explained in his lecture how opinion journalism is extremely important for our country. He supplied the audience with multiple examples of bad fake news that took a toll on the United States and explained opinion journalism in the light of our first amendment rights and freedom of speech.
“So what is the role of opinion journalism?” Dao questioned the audience. “Does opinion journalism simply make fake news worse? I would argue no. Good opinion journalism, just like good news reporting, starts with the idea that facts are real, and facts are verifiable things. Fake news disregards fact or makes up its own facts.”
After Dao clarified the difference between fake news and opinion journalism and the lecture came to an end, Dao answered questions about fake news, opinion journalism and reporting for the New York Times.
Lienne Cupal, first-year student and psychology major at Westminster, said she came to the lecture in part because of her major.
“Through studying psychology, I was really interested on how journalism has an impact on the community, that is why I came to the lecture today,” Cupal said.
Cupal asked Dao a question about the possible dangers of a news organization providing oppositional or contradictory viewpoints in articles and how that could affect readers.
“Opinion journalism can do another important thing,” Dao said. “It can take us into places we might not have access to with regular news reporting.”