Yael Swerdlow has been a journalist for 23 years and never has
been to Israel, a journalism hot spot in the world. She does not go
to Israel because she is Jewish.
“The reason I have for not going to Israel is because I know, as
a Jew, the second I landed I couldn’t be objective,” Swerdlow
Speaking at the Lory Student Center Wednesday night, Swerdlow
gave audience members her views on the media, its coverage playing
out in the press and the journalists who report it.
Quickly turning her presentation into a less organized and more
informal discussion with community members and students on many
different issues involving American media, she spoke on how it is
driven and the purpose behind it.
Swerdlow, who has been on Pulitzer Prize-winning teams for the
1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge, Calif., earthquake,
jumped from one topic to another quite quickly, speaking on issues
from media bias to the nature of journalism as a business.
“This is what (journalism) is about. I am not dissing the
journalists, I am dissing the system the journalists are working
under,” Swerdlow said.
Journalists are working in a profit-driven atmosphere, where
there is a lot more behind a story than providing information to
the people, she said.
“If you think that there is something important on the page of a
newspaper, just remember that (that content) is only there to fill
the extra space from the mattress ad,” Swerdlow said.
She did mention briefly that despite this opinion, there are
good journalists out there today.
“I really believe that there are many hard working, ethical,
great reporters working today,” Swerdlow said.
In Swerdlow’s opinion, many journalists succumb to negative
aspects of the business after being in the field too long.
“You cross the line of doing (journalism) for the cause and
doing it for you,” she said.
Some believe “advocacy journalism” is also becoming more
apparent in today’s media. Advocacy journalism, according to
Swerdlow, is when journalists report issues with a bias to further
their own personal beliefs and convictions.
“Advocacy journalism is the cause of the day. Journalists are
running around claiming that they can make the world a better
place, for the downtrodden, the poor, the people that are slipping
through the cracks,” Swerdlow said.
Patrick Plaisance, a professor in the journalism department at
CSU, disagreed with much of what Skedlow said.
“I have to object to your gross generalization of journalism. We
cannot ignore the vast amount of good journalists who are out
there,” Plaisance said. “I just don’t want one negative and
distorted view of the profession being put out there.”
After a heated dialogue between Plaisance and Skedlow, Plaisance
left the discussion early in the lecture.
Swerdlow admitted the comments of Plaisance “threw her off,” but
she finished her speech with a plea for the audience.
“Please don’t just listen to what it is you want to hear. Always
get the other side of everything so you can make your opinion.”