[ Silence ]>>Steve Coll: Well, it’s kind of intuitive,
but I think President Hanlon’s emphasis on liberal arts is exactly right
because we’re moving, on the one hand, into a world of increasing specialization,
but also at the same time into a world where it’s more and more necessary
to collaborate across disciplines. And the liberal arts really are a
foundation for independent critical thinking but also the ability to cross disciplines and
to see our knowledge economy, for example, as a whole, not just as a silo where you might,
for example, write code without ever thinking about the code’s purpose or how
it connects to the humanities. And so at the journalism school, what we find is
that attracting students who can think, write, and prepare themselves for a career of
continuous learning is the big challenge. And journalism is a pretty good example of why
a liberal arts education is still so critical as a foundation because the tools that
journalists used when I started out, too long ago to count, have all been replaced by
new tools, but the ability to think about how, why the tools matter or what is it in the
public sphere that journalism ought to attempt to illuminate or to question,
that’s an enduring problem. And, secondly, journalism is an example
of an industry that, like many others, has been disrupted by digital technology. So you have a lot of brand-new technologies
entering into newsrooms, and you have a lot of young people coming into
those newsrooms at the same time. And what we’re discovering at the
journalism school, and I think in newsrooms at major television networks and at new
media companies and at legacy companies like newspapers is that we
require a collaboration between computational scientists,
for example, and English majors. Alright. So you really need
both sides of that equation. You need someone whose orientation is
towards the potential of mathematics to create a new form of storytelling, and then
you need someone who knows what a story is. And getting those two people into the same
conversation is difficult in any circumstances, but it’s a lot easier if both of them,
while acquiring their distinct disciplines, lived in a liberal arts environment where they
were throughout their four years being asked to cross over and to essentially
build a synthetic knowledge rather a specialized knowledge. Essentially, in journalism, it’s really
about the reporting, and reporting, in turn, requires an ability to see what the story is and
why it’s a story, or at least to have a method for figuring that out as you
go along, and then, of course, at the end, you have to write something. So I found studying English, which I just loved
as a reader and learning about composition but more just living close to the language,
that was where that fit, and then, you know, history is a way to tell stories also, and quite
a lot of my work has been in some borderland between the work of a historian
and the work of a journalist.