Obama's speech criticizes journalists' coverage of politics

4 years 4 months 1 week ago Monday, March 28 2016 Mar 28, 2016 Monday, March 28, 2016 9:47:00 PM CDT March 28, 2016 in News
By: Josephine Peterson, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

SYRACUSE, New York - President Obama gave a speech Tuesday at Syracuse to present the Toner Prize honoring journalist Robin Toner, the first woman to work at The New York Times as a national political correspondent. Obama used the time to ask journalists to hold politicians accountable for their comments. 

He said politicians say false remarks, and journalists reporting such remarks as true misleads people. Obama also said an industry making billions of dollars should use fact-checking more often.

"If I say that the world is round and someone else says it's flat, that's worth reporting. But you might also want to report on a bunch of scientific evidence that shows the world is round," Obama said. 

The president said journalists should avoid reporting politics as a "horse race or mud-slinging" as Toner did. Toner was "a servant to the American public," he said. He also said by permitting politicians to say ignorant comments of reason and facts, it allows for an "excuse to say offensive things or lie out loud."

"A well-informed electorate depends on you, and our democracy depends on a well-informed electorate," Obama said.

He said he is worried such remarks are ruining the country's global image. The number one question abroad, he said, is "what is happening in America?"

Obama said journalism needs to stay on the front line, even as there is increasing pressure and declining resources. 

Obama honored Toner, who passed away in 2008, as the "reporter's reporter."

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