By Myckyal Hunt
Eugene, Ore – Students and audience members of the University of Oregon’s annual Ruhl lecture gathered on Tuesday to hear what Professor Philip Meyer had to say about ethics in media today. One thing they learned – “The journalist of the future will be self-defined.”
The Ruhl Lecture was created to honor Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Ruhl who was a respected news journalist in Oregon before passing away in 1967. The Ruhl Symposium aims to help produce journalists who value ethics, responsibility and dedication. Meyer, who is a Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, came to speak at the University of Oregon with over 20 year’s experience and a lot to say on the ethics of media today.
The topic of Meyer’s lecture revolved around media in the 21st century and the need for the rules of ethics in the field to change. Meyer hoped to address this issue in his lecture, which he called “When everyone’s a journalist, who will make the rules?”
Writing for the media in a time when new technology becomes old with a few months, means journalists need to have a multitude of skills to cope, but it also means that the ethical way in which journalists get the job done also need to adjust as well. “Working with new technology under old rules… creates awkward circumstances,” Meyer said.
This idea was more than relevant for those in attendance. Professional journalists and student journalists – many scribbling notes as Meyer spoke – need to know how the field is changing and what their place may be in coming years.
Brock Greene, a third year student studying journalism and religious studies at the UO, had a lot to think about after the lecture, “[The lecture was] pretty interesting, for the most part I agree with him,” Greene said. The idea that anyone can be a journalist if they call themselves a journalist is something he wasn’t sure about, because of reliability issues.
Meyer addressed a number of issues in his lecture, covering everything from the history of ethics in journalism to what he thinks the future of journalism will hold. For a number of audience member, student in particular, the future is not something to be taken lightly. Meyer said that the journalist of the future will be “an ordinary person who doesn’t need to have special privileges,” and that this is a “noble goal” to strive for.
The future of journalism is currently foggy, and definitely littered with new and used technologies, but one this is certain, as Meyer said “Ideas are changing every day. But who knows the answer. All you need to do is wait.