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The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

The independent student media site of West Linn High School

wlhsNOW

Jim Lehrer speaks about political journalism to Portlanders, answers Amplifier’s questions at press conference

Jim+Lehrer+speaks+about+political+journalism+to+Portlanders%2C+answers+Amplifier%E2%80%99s+questions+at+press+conference

Jim Lehrer, author and journalist, gave a lecture at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Feb. 3 about “Politics and Principles.” The lecture, sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Oregon, was attended by six Amplifier staff members: Elise Brown, Marley Young and Chrisann Kim, juniors; Elisapeta Santoro, senior; and Grace Sleeper, McKenna Clayton, and Sarah Chung, sophomores.

Prior to the lecture, Young and Brown attended a press conference held specifically for students chosen by their adviser to attend. Each school could bring two students to the press conference, and 15 to the lecture, under the WAC’s “Aspiring Journalist” scholarship.

Brown asked Lehrer about what to do during a presidential debate or interview when “you know for a fact that what the person is saying is false.”

“Did y’all in the back hear her?” Lehrer said to the audience. “She asked, ‘How many times have you been in Portland?’” The room erupted into laughter. Lehrer then went on to discuss his response to politicians when they do not answer a question – ask the question again and see if they respond – or when they lie – do not shout at them, but calmly point out the facts in front of you that may disprove them.

Lehrer, in both the lecture and press conference, spoke with experience, intelligence and humor. He would often “digress” into a related story when answering a question, adding a personal and comedic angle to whatever the issue at hand. He connected current issues to a person or persons he had interviewed in the past. For example, when talking about presidential debates, he could refer to his experience moderating 11 of them.

Lehrer developed the Public Broadcasting Service program NewsHour in 1975, and was the show’s anchor up until June 2011. He has interviewed every presidential candidate since the Nixon administration, and written over 20 books, including plays, memoirs and novels. His latest book, published Sep. 13, 2011, is “Tension City,” a book which retells his experiences as a moderator of presidential debates.

One moment of the lecture that received a significant amount of applause was Lehrer’s explanation of the code of conduct he helped write for the NewsHour staff, which is as follows:

  • “Do nothing I cannot defend.
  • “Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me.
  • “Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story.
  • “Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
  • “Assume the same about all people on whom I report.
  • “Assume personal lives are a private matter, until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise.
  • “Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories, and clearly label everything.
  • “Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes, except on rare and monumental occasions.
  • “No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously.
  • “And, finally, I am not in the entertainment business.”
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Elise Brown, Co Editor-in-Chief

Elise Brown, senior, has always felt comfortable standing up and giving her opinion in front of everyone and for the most part, she enjoys it very much.  That is one of the many reasons why she heads the debate team, and also why in June she earned a place in the National Speech and Debate Competition in Indianapolis.

Out of the 250 people entered in the competition, she finished 151st in the country.  Before she earned her rightful place in Nationals, however, she needed to prove herself in Districts and State.

Her 10 minute long speech about socialism and its benefits took first and second in Districts and State, respectively.

“In the National competition the judges didn’t appreciate politics or controversy as much as they did in Districts and State,” Brown said.  This was confirmed from one of the judges she conversed with in order to find out what she could do better.

Brown’s interest in current events started in the eighth grade.  She then did the Amplifier, the high school newspaper to help communicate her ideas about the world with her fellow peers, she also did the debate team to better understand the problems throughout the world and learn how to solve them somewhat.

“Debate involves knowing what is going on in the world,”  Brown said.

This year for upcoming competitions, she has a speech in the works that she feels will top her last one.  This year’s speech is about interdependence inspired by the “you didn’t build that debate,” caused when President Barack Obama told business people that they did not create their businesses on their own.

Brown’s passion for debate has influenced what college she will go to, what she will study in college, and what she wants to do in her life.  Brown’s goal is to graduate high school and then travel to Massachusetts and attend Wellesley College, a very well known and prestigious college, where Brown hopes to study political science.

To achieve this goal she has taken part in a number of rigorous courses and activities such as Speech and Debate, AP Government, AP Economics, Honors Law, AP English and journalism.  Once Brown achieves her education goals, her next goal is to become a political commentator.

“I want to change people’s minds,”  Brown said.  Brown has chosen the path to become a political commentator because she believes political power lies with the media.

Brown has worked very hard throughout high school and continues to work hard through her senior year.  She has taken many challenging courses to achieve her goal of going to Wellesley, and will need to continue down the very rigorous path to success to accomplish her goals.

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Jim Lehrer speaks about political journalism to Portlanders, answers Amplifier’s questions at press conference