Michel Martin and David Barasoain
Southern Adventist University’s School of Journalism and Communication hosted Michel Martin, Emmy Award-winning journalist and host of NPR’s Morning Edition, to campus last Thursday. Ms. Martin joined Atlanta audio producer and Southern alum David Barasoain for a conversation to navigate “Making Sense of a Polarized World.”
Ms. Martin’s appearance was a part of the R. Lynn Sauls Endowed Lecture series, which made its debut last year. The lecture series was set in place to “inspire a new generation of truth seekers, storytellers and influencers” by hosting important communication and journalist specialists on campus.
Students, faculty, alumni and community members were invited to the event.
Working in the journalism business for more than 25 years for the Washington Post, NPR, ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, and more, Ms. Martin shared lessons she has learned and gave students advice on what it means to provide people with truthful news in this generation. “We don’t have to accept this [polarization]. We all have a part in this human enterprise,” said Ms. Martin.
Ms. Martin shared some of the experiences she has encountered while working in print journalism, television and on the radio. She gave insight on how to keep an open mind while gathering news and understanding that no matter who you are and what you look like, you can be effective in the world. Ms. Martin also emphasized that the people she interviews are more important than the story, and she must gain their respect. “Talk to people, not about them,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Ms. Martin attended some of Southern’s journalism classes, speaking with students about navigating the professional world directly after college and answering questions. Ms. Martin also attended the morning convocation, titled “Is Journalism a Bad Word?” where professors, along with Barasoain, spoke to students about the role of journalism in society.
“When Michel Martin described journalism as a ‘ministry of presence,’ I was deeply impacted,” said Amanda Blake, senior journalism major and editor-in-chief of the Southern Accent student newspaper. “Martin’s down-to-earth, profound expression of a journalist’s duty to give a voice to the voiceless reminded me of why I accepted the call to lead the Accent.”
One lesson Ms. Martin shared is that news is not inherently bad. She reminded listeners to check their sources, share factual information, and approach conversations with curiosity and compassion for others. Noting that the tools people use to communicate, such as social media, are morally neutral, she said, “It’s up to you what you do with it."