Delivery method of news may change, but journalism's role remains constant, NYT editor tells students

Posted: Monday, 15 April 2013

TROY - While the ways in which today’s consumer chooses to receive news is changing, journalism’s role as the “watchdog” remains a constant, a New York Times deputy editor told Troy University students on April 10.

Clifford Levy, deputy editor of the Metro Section of the New York Times and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his investigative reporting, spoke to classes and to a gathering of students, faculty, staff and the public in the Trojan Center Theatre on Wednesday as a part of TROY’s partnership with The New York Times. The partnership supports the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan to create a culture of engaged readers.

Pointing to recent examples of the scandal involving Rutgers University’s head basketball coach’s treatment of his players and a grade-changing scandal in public schools in and around Atlanta, Levy said the role of the investigative reporter is as important as ever.

“These situations were brought to the attention of the public all because of the work of a journalist,” Levy said. “It shows us the role journalists, as watchdogs for the public good, can have in society by bringing to light things that people would rather not have revealed. None of these situations would have been exposed had investigative reporters not done their jobs.”

Levy said the future of journalism is facing numerous challenges, the greatest of which is being driven by the almost-continuous technological advancements in the area of communication.

“Newspapers are struggling as an industry to make the transition from print to digital and competition is a huge problem,” Levy said. “For us, at the New York Times, that transition is freaking us out. From a purely business standpoint, there is a tremendous amount of competition on the web and that drives rates for advertising down, which certainly impacts the bottom line.”

The challenges don’t stop with the transition from print to digital formats for news delivery, Levy said.

“Up to 50 percent of all internet traffic the New York Times receives is through smart phones or tablets,” he said. “So the challenge from a business perspective is now we have to find how to make money from that small screen.”

Levy admits that he sees both the positives and negatives that have resulted from these advancements.

“We try to take advantage of the positive aspects provided through instant communications and advancements in technology while dealing as best we can with the negative aspects that come along with that,” Levy said. “This is both one of the most exciting and terrifying times in our business. However, one thing is for certain: if you remain in place, someone else will zoom right past you.”

Cliff Levy, two time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, spoke to classes and the general public on the Troy Campus on April 10. Levy's presentations were part of the Troy University-New York Times partnership which supports the University's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) to create a culture of engaged readers at the University. (Photo by Jonah Enfinger)