PBS anchor visits Oklahoma, tells media to take chill pill 

This just in: The media should take a chill pill and not worry about extinction. Believe it or not, all news begins with a living and breathing journalist, according to Jim Lehrer.

The PBS anchor recently received the inaugural Gaylord Prize given by the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"In the beginning there is always a news story," Lehrer said while accepting the prize Nov. 17 in Oklahoma City, according to The Norman Transcript.

"It has to start with one of us " one of us being reporters, one of us who was there, one of us who read the original document, one of us who got the first interview."

Regardless of the medium " wireless, TV or print " Lehrer said reporters first must provide the facts before commentators or comedians can give their two cents on the developments.

"The news gatekeeper is not only not going away, but it's coming back big time," Lehrer said. "There's an increasing amount of news out there in the blogosphere, satellite, iPod and other spheres. People are busy, they want some professional, unbiased, unagenda assistance in sorting through it all ... before they go off to the editorial page or the commentators."

During the 2004 presidential election, a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll found 21 percent of people 18 to 29 cited "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show" as a regular source for campaign news.

Chicken-Fried News' intern, Bucky, is a child of the Internet. No, he wasn't conceived online, but he knows how to search and click with reckless abandon. But he doesn't always know the difference between commentary, reporting or whether that Nigerian money offer is for real.

Meanwhile, a 2007 research project commissioned by The Associated Press found younger readers felt bombarded with information and suffered from news fatigue. Study participants wanted to read quality, in-depth reporting, but had trouble accessing the content immediately and were hindered by multitasking. Take that, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann!

Despite revolutionary changes in technology and distribution channels, Lehrer said journalists should not to lose purpose.

"(Reporters) must not stray from some of the basics that make us unique from all of the others," Lehrer said, "by going with stories before they're ready. Spicing them up a bit with over-the-line commentary. Raising the volume, and, worst of all, make entertaining people one of our purposes.

"I never, ever want anybody to confuse the news with entertainment. Or me with the clowns."

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