That day I found myself on the other side of the looking glass

The Columbus Dispatch

This was not exactly in my wheelhouse. But there I was Wednesday, sitting in front of dozens of interested Leadership Gulf Coast participants to answer their questions.

Smart, fully engaged, they were.


We were supposed to discuss “the influence of the media on the political process, how media is changing and how politicians’ and voters’ use of media is changing.”

But nothing, I assumed, was off the table.

And we had an hour. An hour, I was sure, that would seem like two or three.

I’m surprised I didn’t molt.

Fortunately, Reed Guice of The Guice Agency, Rip Daniels of WJZD and Kipp Gregory of Super Talk were on the panel with me.

“Yeah, you shouldn’t have to worry about talking at all,” one wiseacre told me a few hours before showtime.

Easy for him to say.

Turns out, I did have to talk. I had a couple of answers and I didn’t faint.

Fake news was a big topic. Everyone agreed that’s a bad thing. How to spot it and get rid of it were the tougher questions. My best advice: Look at the source. Be skeptical if the website seems relatively new, has few stories and posts outlandish claims.

No one is going to buy a printing press or broadcast equipment to spread fake news. Spreading it on the internet costs next to nothing.

They also wondered how the polls got the presidential race so wrong. Good question. Guice said they under-polled in the flyover country that was crucial to the outcome. The Leadership Gulf Coast class also would rather the exit-pollers kept their polling information to themselves until the polls closed. Oh, and try calling the election before 2 a.m. We’re not getting any younger here.

Yes, journalism is a tough job. But there are a lot of tough jobs out there.

The reading/viewing public wants quality journalism and really doesn’t care if staffs are smaller and everyone is working harder. They don’t want corners cut. And yes, they know the media’s credibility is as bad as that of Congress.

The executive summary. Do a better job.

Certainly doable.

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton