Brokaw: News Consumers Can't Be 'Couch Potatoes' Anymore

News consumers must be more proactive and discerning about where they choose to read the news, Tom Brokaw told David Gregory at the Washington Ideas Forum.

"There was a time not so long ago where you could be a couch potato as a news consumer. You turn on David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. That's all changed," said Brokaw, the former anchor of NBC Nightly News and an NBC Nightly News special correspondent. "You have to pay as much attention to where you get your news [you do for buying] a household appliance, or buying a car."

Washington Ideas Forum - Full CoverageGregory, the host of Meet the Press, asked Brokaw how he might sum up these times. Brokaw recalled his thinking in the aftermath of 9/11.  "We're going to war. We're likely to have a recession. We're going into Afghanistan where no outsider has been successful for 2,000 years."


Shifting attention to the Boomer Generation, Brokaw said, "We didn't do a good job at holding public officials accountable. We went to war on a credit card again, after Vietnam. We spent $1 trillion, and counting. Student debt is considerable. [Students] are living with less. They're called neo-frugalists. That's the generation to keep your eye on. Do they become cynical about this experience? the one question that bothers me the most is, I'm just terrified that my children won't have the lives that I do. "

Every society will depend on a place they can turn to to make decisions about their lives

"How would you break into the news business now?" Gregory asked Brokaw. "I'd go to medical school," Brokaw responded.



The former NBC anchor also unveiled a proposal to revamp the next generation's dedication to public service. "I'm proposing a big idea," he said. Brokaw suggested creating a series of public-private partnership academies, attached to universities and supported by large universities, which would churn out young people who could assist the military overseas or help rebuild the U.S. from within.

Brokaw said he hopes Congress will focus more on "reform and change and improvement rather than cutting and slashing." Again turning back to his generation, he said "We didn't manage our way up. You can get into the same trouble not managing cut-backs."

View this full session at FORA.tv
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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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