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Journalism in an Age of Disruption | Mainstage

Michelle Giuda, Executive Vice President, Geopolitical Strategy and Risk, Weber Shandwick; Concordia Senior Advisor
Blake Hounshell, Managing Editor, Washington and Politics, POLITICO
Noah Shachtman, Editor-in-Chief, Rolling Stone
Rashida Jones, President, MSNBC


For the immigrant grandmother of Michelle Giuda, Executive Vice President of Geopolitical Strategy and Risk for Weber Shandwick, a free press wasn’t just a luxury, it was a lifeline to information. Today, disinformation and disruption has tarnished the industry. The role of journalism is more important than ever, Guida affirmed, but it has never been more vilified.

Blake Hounshell, Managing Editor of Washington & Politics for POLITICO, picked up the discussion with an inquiry: does news need to be faster, harder, and louder? For Noah Shachtman, Editor-in-Chief at Rolling Stone, today’s price of entry to journalism is a robust web and digital news operation. Whether the coverage itself is quiet or loud, that operational piece needs to be harder.

On the cable news side, according to Rashida Jones, President of MSNBC, success demands a range of approaches and a variety of programs. It’s not always better to be loudest, she said, it’s better to be smarter. 

Turning to the issue of politics, Hounshell asked whether news organizations miss the excitement of the Trump era. Jones expressed that a quieter Administration allows more time and space to be proactive rather than reactive. For Schactman, no amount of ratings are worth it. When pushed about whether their respective organizations are reaching out to Trump voters, Jones explained that MSNBC includes a large amount of non-political programming in order to be broad and immersive, while Schactman does not plan to alter Rolling Stone’s approach to specifically reach that audience.

Hounshell asked the panelists about the current moment that has begun to highlight new voices and promote diversity. Jones expressed her conviction that this is a permanent shift and Schactman concurred. Both of their outlets have a legacy of brand integrity so as new platforms arise, Jones explained that they intend to reach audiences where they are with the content they need. 

Information has been used and misused throughout the course of history to advance both noble and malicious causes.

Michelle Giuda

One of the other things that’s happening in the media now, aside from a change in political power, is a change in who gets represented.

Blake Hounshell

The price of entry for the news game is by having a robust web operation and being able to break through.

Noah Shachtman

Rather than try to train the audience to come back to where we are or come to more traditional platforms, we’ve trained ourselves to go to where they already are.

Rashida Jones

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • The modes of media have changed and its methods must change with it. Rather than trying to draw readers or viewers back to traditional sources, media organizations need to meet their audience with new tools.
  • Highlighting new voices and improving the breadth of diversity in media programming will help strengthen the industry.