Bob Schieffer says the crisis in American journalism is a national security issue

Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer of CBS News speaks to the audience before the third and final presidential debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., on Oct. 22, 2012.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Longtime CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer says we are overloaded with political news, with information and with misinformation.

He points out that we have access to more information than any people who have ever lived, but he wonders, "are we the best informed? Or wiser? Or are we simply overwhelmed with so much information that we can't process it?"

In 2008 The Library of Congress named Bob Schieffer a Living Legend. In a career that spanned more than a half-century, Schieffer won nearly every award in broadcast journalism for his 46 years of work with CBS News, including 24 years as host of "Face the Nation." He retired from CBS in 2015.

Schieffer now says there is a crisis in journalism, and it's causing a crisis in American civic culture. He's written a new book titled, "Overload: Finding the Truth in Today's Deluge of News."

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The crisis in American journalism, Schieffer says, is really a national security issue. "If people don't understand why the government takes the policies that it takes, it's very difficult to build support for those policies.

"At the same time, we've had this revolution in communications technology. We're no longer getting our information from the same sources, we're no longer basing our opinions on common data. That's where the real crisis exists."

Schieffer started his career in radio and as a newspaper reporter in Fort Worth, Texas. He bemoans the decline of local newspapers.

"We need to find some entity to do what we've come to expect from local newspapers in this country, or we're going to have corruption at a level we've never seen in this country," he said.

Harvard University history professor and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore agreed that there is a need for strong local news reporting, and a journalism that can also create "a strong sense of national belonging."

Schieffer was interviewed by Lepore on May 1, 2018 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Thanks to public radio station WBUR for the audio from the JFK Library.

To listen to their discussion, click the audio player above.