Bob Schieffer On Navigating News ‘Overload’

BOSTON (CBS) – Navigating the many sources of news isn’t easy…even for “news junkies.” We’ve never had more options.

But with podcasts, websites, social media and traditional sources of news, are we smarter and better-informed? Or are we simply overwhelmed?

That’s one of the questions veteran CBS newsman, Bob Schieffer poses in his new book “Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News.”

At appearances at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University and at the Harvard Coop, Schieffer talked about the process of writing the book.

schieffer Bob Schieffer On Navigating News Overload

Bob Schieffer speaks at the Harvard Coop (WBZ-TV)

He interviewed 40 journalists about the revolution in technology that, Schieffer maintains, represents as profound a change as the invention of the printing press in its time.

In a wide-ranging interview with WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes, Schieffer described the nonstop nature of news as a “fire hose.”

His best advice for news consumers? “Buyer beware. Always base your opinions on more than one source,” he says. “Nobody can be well-informed if they rely only on one source of news.”

Traditional news sources—newspapers and newscasts—he says are held to a high standard. Some digital-native sites (the Texas Tribune, for example) do, too. If those news organizations can’t confirm the information, they won’t run it.

And he says that’s not always the case on social media.

schiffer2 Bob Schieffer On Navigating News Overload

Bob Schieffer (WBZ-TV)

He points to Russian hackers who broke into websites and intentionally posted false ads and information as an example.

“They may not have been FOR Donald Trump. But they were for sowing discord and confusion and raising questions about the information people were getting.”

Schieffer gives President Trump credit for knowing how to use television to communicate a message and for using Twitter in a way that removes a “filter” between the White House and public.

But, Schieffer says, some of the President’s tweets are problematic, particularly in a “dangerous time” for national security.

“What worries me is when he says some of the things he says about North Korea. You wonder—what’s his game here? What’s he hoping to get out of this?”

Then adds, “The great lesson I’ve learned about the Trump presidency is…you never know what’s gonna happen next.”

Web Extra: Extended Interview With Schieffer

Schieffer says he has no idea what will happen in the next presidential election, but suspects there will be at least one strong Third Party candidate.

The mainstream political parties, he says, are at “rock bottom” with relatively few up-and-coming stars who want to run for higher office.

Schieffer says the fundraising burden is just too high.

But, with a smile, he admits…he couldn’t have predicted the outcome of the 2016 election, either.

Schieffer, who covered 14 presidential elections, says he had never seen one like the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Lisa, I said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’ so many times during the campaign that it became a drinking game among my younger colleagues at CBS,” he laughed.

As a retiree, does Schieffer miss being in the “daily mix”? He shakes his head. “I don’t miss getting up at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday morning. I am as involved as I want to be.”

And, in “Overload” he’s involved in making a strong case that journalism is key to national security.

Despite what critics (including former White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon) says, “We are not the opposition party. We are there to check the story the politicians put out. And if we do it right, it’s a crucial part of democracy.”

More from Lisa Hughes
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