Alan Murray, the CEO of Fortune, an international media company that is responsible for the Fortune 500, presented the 191st Landon Lecture in McCain Auditorium Friday morning.
Murray’s speech, entitled “The Future of Facts: Searching for Truth in the 21st Century,” focused on the importance of facts and truth in both the news industry and society as a whole and how facts and truth are consumed.
Murray says that despite how critical facts are, overall faith in them and their existence is fading.
He also says continuing to have apathy for and disbelief of facts presents a danger to society.
Murray says one reason current negative attitudes towards factual information exist is news organizations have lost touch with industry principles that were established during a time when there were just a few people and media outlets controlling the flow of information.
Murray also recalled how some news outlets have evolved not just in the way they deliver news, but also in their motives for choosing the information their audiences take in.
Murray says this evolution includes social media and technology platforms, referencing Facebook as one that let the spread of misinformation continue to grow.
While Murray believes Facebook has become more responsible and technology has done good things for the news industry, he says government legislation at one point made it easy for them at to be held to different standards than other organizations.
In addition to speaking about how the behavior around news and facts have changed, Murray addressed how journalists and the facts they attempt to report have been facing unprecedented levels of danger, referencing several examples government media members being imprisoned, murdered and suppressed.
Murray says these attitudes towards facts must change and the situation surrounding the uncovering and consumption of truth in journalism must be treated as more of a priority for the sake of society.
In the second half of his speech, Murray talked about how technology, educators and journalists can help provide solutions to the problems facing the news and information industry. He says educators can help improve media literacy and technology can help determine which news organizations are reliable and credible.
Additionally, he says consumers of information need to do their part in making sure they are taking in truth and facts.
Murray ended his speech by noting that despite the challenges being face by those in journalism, the industry has no shortage of people wanting to get involved.
In addition to role his role at Fortune, Murray has also served as Time Inc.’s chief content officer, the Pew Research Center’s president, spent several years in multiple roles at the Wall Street Journal, authored four books, hosted a show on CNBC and is a member of various organizations such as the New York Economics Club and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Murray’s full speech and question and answer session can be found below.
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