Guest Speakers

CUABJ Speaker Notes: Clarence Page

Clarence Page in the Stabile Center

Clarence Page speaks to Columbia J School students on February 8, 2012

On February 8 the Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page stopped by for a lunch time chat with Columbia J-school students and talked about covering race during political elections. Click on to see notes from the event. 

On Newt Gingrich and the Debates

–       “Food stamp” press

  • Coded word  (associating African Americans with food stamps even though they’re not the group that uses them the most)

–       It’s not what you say that counts, it’s what you hear.

  • Words can spark ideas or have different meanings.

–       Politicians never answer your questions, they answer their own questions

–       John King asked Gingrich about his marriage issues and Newt got very upset

  • John eventually backed off a bit, but Page says that he should’ve held his ground and continued his questioning

–       People like conflict (brings up ratings)

  • Newt tends to get the crowd all worked up into a frenzy
  • For a debate on NBC, the audience was told not to respond
    • Romney considered to have beaten Gingrich in that debate
  • CNN likes crowd responses (for ratings), but Page says that it distorts political discourse
  • Political campaigns will always astonish and surprise you- that’s what new is
    • News is what’s going on that’s not supposed to
    • Debates are good because they help us learn more about the textures of the country and what people are thinking

General Advice

–       Make yourself indispensible

  • There are always people employing, but what is it about you that makes you valuable?

–       Know your history- history is about narratives

  • Think about what happened in the past and how it relates to the future

–       Tell a story

  • “Dear mama”- act like you’re talking to your mother and then you’ll end up narrating a story

Other comments

–       Perceptions are 90% of politics (e.g. most people consider themselves middle class)

–       Levels of rhetoric, antipathy, and sensitivity have really increase

  • Media has a responsibility to fight against it

–       Still need reporters who have credibility as unbiased and disinterested (not uninterested)

  • Goal of the industry is to be disinterested

Clarence Page speaks to J-school students