SmartNews Presents an Evening with Carl Bernstein

Last Thursday, the renowned Carl Bernstein returned to Watergate — with SmartNews!

The distinguished Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter joined over 175 attendees from the Online News Association conference on the rooftop of the Watergate Hotel, the full moon illuminating the Potomac River behind him as he gave a moving speech on the current state of journalism.

Rich Jaroslovsky, our VP of Content and founder of ONA, introduced the acclaimed guest, citing Bernstein’s historic reporting and career as a pinnacle of what journalism should be — a defense of fact against fiction.

Jaroslovsky first spoke on how the spread of information has changed in the day and age of online news and social media. He said, “Technology has provided us with truly marvelous tools for the creation and dissemination of information. As the events of the last eighteen months have shown us, this technology has also provided us truly marvelous tools for the creation and dissemination of misinformation. Excessive personalization has created a landscape of filter bubbles, where more and more people are never exposed to new ideas, especially ones that may challenge their preconceived notions.”

Bernstein elaborated on this topic, emphasizing that while audiences may have become increasingly disinterested in the full picture, journalists must continue to seek out quality information and provide exceptional reporting for the sake of the public good.

Optimized-0105_10-5-17_Smartnews-inc-Watergate-hotel-Washington-DCGuests waiting for Carl Bernstein to take the stage

The acclaimed reporter argued, “We’re in a time far more dangerous than Watergate,” insisting that the media must stop waging ideological warfare and rushing to be the first to report sensational news. Rather, he encouraged all in the audience to strive harder and make use of the powerful storytelling tools available in the digital era to produce “the best obtainable version of the truth.”

To resounding applause, Bernstein wrapped up his speech with a brief Q&A session, responding personally to both seasoned reporters and journalism students in the crowd. A few lucky attendees were able to get copies of his book, “All the President’s Men,” signed, while others milled around trying to snap photos of the larger-than-life reporter.

Optimized-0143_10-5-17_Smartnews-inc-Watergate-hotel-Washington-DCCarl Bernstein signing a copy of his book, “All the President’s Men” for SmartNews’s VP of Content and Chief Journalist, Rich Jaroslovsky

We figured that none of the smartphones present could do justice to the event, or to the guest of honor, so we took some photos of our own! Check out pictures from the incredible night here if you were unable to attend or if you’d just like to relive the evening. Thanks again to all those from ONA who made it to the party — we hope to see you next year!