by Sheena Samu
Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism celebrated the 50th “My Life As” lecture on Oct. 15, 2013 with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author Carl Bernstein.
Bernstein is one half of the Washington Post team that uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972, which later led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. He is now a visiting presidential professor, a special appointment that has him teaching in several departments, including the School of Journalism.
“My experience in college makes me all the more appreciate your achievements here,” Bernstein started off. He dropped out of the University of Maryland to take a full-time job at the now-defunct Washington Star, a decision he is still happy about today. “I’m lucky I discovered at a young age what I love to do,” he says. “I was educated in the newsroom.”
The Star, he said, was a place where everyone around him knew how to have the time of their lives while doing what they loved.
“For those pursuing journalism,” said Bernstein, reassuring his audience of mostly journalism majors, “there is every opportunity to have that same sense of drama, excitement and accomplishment that I had in my 50 years.”
Bernstein, from the beginning of his speech, used the U.S. government shut-down as an example of the need for tough-minded journalism. According to Bernstein, the only people who are properly explaining the situation are Daily Show host Jon Stewart and Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert. “We become pawns in the idea that manufactured controversy becomes a substitute for real news,” he said, praising Stewart and Colbert for their ability to see past the manufacturing.
“Our job is to pursue the best attainable version of the truth,” he said. “It’s a simple phrase but difficult to achieve.”
The keys to doing so, he said, are fairness, perseverance, common sense, respect and a good work ethic.
Bernstein is also signed up to lecture for the departments of English, political science, history, sociology and writing and rhetoric.
The School of Journalism invites three noted journalists to campus each semester to deliver a short account of their life and work, followed by QnA with students. Bernstein’s reporting partner, Bob Woodward, gave the 3rd “My Life As” lecture in April, 2007.
(This is an abbreviated and edited version of the Stony Brook Independent’s report of the event, used with permission. Click here to read the full story.)