By Natalia Smith
New York Times columnist Roger Cohen spoke at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism about the role of journalism and the media in American politics Tuesday. The event, titled “How far America has fallen and the State of Journalism in today’s Political Culture,” was co-hosted by Annenberg and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
During the event, Cohen discussed how the availability and accessibility of information is impacting society, and emphasized the importance of journalism and a free press. He also spoke about how Donald Trump’s relationship with the media is particularly concerning for democratic institutions and freedoms.
Cohen previously served as a foreign correspondent in fifteen different countries, and since 2004, has written a column for The International New York Times, formerly known as the International Herald Tribune. Cohen received the lifetime achievement award in 2019 at the International Media awards in London.
During his visit to USC, Cohen also spoke to students in “Managing Global Challenges,” a class in the School of International Relations. He offered his thoughts on the emerging challenges of Brexit, the role of Donald Trump and the future strength of democracy given a tumultuous political climate.
Cohen said the political division that has been sweeping the globe is rooted in a rise in nationalism. According to Cohen, leadership is one of the key pillars missing in American society — he said an honest leader today has very little meaning.
Cohen noted that the big question in today’s society is what to do with the failure of liberal democracies. He notes that the metropolitan divide and the rising inequality in Western societies are possible explanations for the potential failure of democracy.
Many students in the class inquired about the columnist’s view on Brexit Cohen believes Brexit was a campaign built on lies and said the vote was a huge mistake made by the British public.
Around 75% of 18-24 year olds voted to remain in the EU with the majority of leave voters scared that immigration was the cause of unemployment.
Cohen said that “there are no good solutions to the current impasse but a second referendum is the least bad.”