“Can your generation distinguish reliable from unreliable information on the internet? How much do you think that matters?” The New York Times recently posed those two questions in an article about news and media literacy. The focus was on young people, and the value of critical thinking skills.

Should news and media literacy should be required courses in schools? How can people of all generations better distinguish between trusted sources and misinformation? Our guests weigh in:

A new exhibition at Rochester Contemporary Art Center explores society's grappling with the post-truth era. "Trust, but verify" addresses how so-called "fake news" is affecting our present and could impact our future.

We talk to some of the artists behind the project about their work and what they hope viewers learn from it. Our guests:

We’re joined by journalist, author, and former “Good Morning America” co-host Joan Lunden. Lunden is the new host of WXXI’s nationally distributed medical talk show, “Second Opinion,” and she’s in Rochester this week shooting this season’s episodes.

We talk to her about her career in broadcasting, the state of journalism in 2020, her new book on aging, and about what’s on tap for “Second Opinion,” which airs in 2021. Our guest:

  • Joan Lunden, journalist, author, former co-host of “Good Morning America,” and current host of “Second Opinion”

On Thursday, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at limiting liability protections for some social media companies. The move comes just days after Twitter fact-checked and labeled two of his tweets as inaccurate. According to NPR, legal experts say it's unlikely that the order will have any practical effect on tech giants like Twitter. Meanwhile, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called out Twitter for its fact-checking, saying Facebook won't be "arbiters of truth." What does all of this mean for the platforms, for users, for free speech, and for democracy?

Our guests explore the issues. They also discuss how social media and journalism have changed as a result of the pandemic. Our guests:

Journalists have debated whether to carry President Trump's daily coronavirus briefings live, or to cover them later in the day only after vetting his comments for accuracy. Conservative author Tom Nichols has decided that someone must chronicle every presidential briefing, and so that's what he does. He writes, in the Atlantic, that the practice of consuming these news conferences is "spiritually corrosive," but he says they must be viewed, in full, to get a complete picture of what the country is experiencing. And Nichols criticizes networks that cut away from the president during the Q&A sessions.

Nichols has become one of the most respected national voices on the subject of understanding expertise. He joins us to discuss journalists' dilemma and why he's taken on this task. Our guest:

The New York Times took some heat for its recent presidential endorsement process. Critics say it played out like an online reality show; others argued that the endorsement was puffed up into an inflated sense of self-importance. The Times responded that its editorial board wanted to take the process seriously, and with transparency.

We ask our guests how they’ve come to view newspaper endorsements, and whether they choose to offer them. (CITY News does not, for example.) In studio:

A growing number of American cities are losing their newspapers. One result, as noted by the New York Times, is that some cities only have student journalists offering print coverage. It puts pressure on students who are supposed to be learning the craft, but who might not have established professionals to guide them.

The Times reports, "Student journalists across the country have stepped in to help fill a void after more than 2,000 newspapers have closed or merged, leaving more than 1,300 communities without any local news coverage. And several young reporters have broken consequential stories that have prodded powerful institutions into changing policies."

Our guests discuss it:

  • Wil Aiken, editor-in-chief of the Campus Times at the University of Rochester
  • Cayla Keiser, editor-in-chief of the Reporter at RIT
  • Kasey Mathews, print managing editor of the Reporter at RIT
  • Mike Johansson, former print journalist

This past summer, a debate erupted over allowing journalists to tweet during trials. Some local doctors urged a judge to institute a ban on social media usage from the courtroom. The critics were concerned that possible victims were being identified, and that sloppy or inaccurate information was being published before reporters had a chance to edit.

Modern technology gives reporters a chance to disseminate information instantly; is it the right way to do it? Our guests debate it:

We're joined by Robert Siegel, longtime NPR host of “All Things Considered.” Siegel retired in January last year.

We sit down with him to discuss his career, the role of public broadcasting, and the state of journalism today.

The Rochester broadcasting industry has seen several longtime journalists leave the business in recent weeks. WXXI’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer left the station this summer after a long career on the air to join Solutions Journalism Network. Norma Holland left WHAM-TV on August 20 after 23 years on the air at the station. She’ll begin a new career at a digital marketing company called Digital Hyve this month. 

We sit down with them to discuss how the business has changed over their careers, the successes and challenges they’ve seen, and what they think is next for the future of the industry. In studio: