After graduating from Oglethorpe University in 2011, Matthew Claiborne has covered many important news stories as a journalist for ABC News. He has written on several issues such as the Pulse Nightclub shooting, Hurricane Maria and the 2016 presidential election.
As part of the running Thomas W. Chandler Lecture Series, Claiborne returned to Oglethorpe to share his professional experiences and advice. His talk, on October 10, covered everything from accountability and politics to remaining unbiased through emotional situations.
He opened by addressing Dr. Seema Shrikhande his former communications professor at Oglethorpe University, and credited her class to his passion for journalism. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from Oglethorpe University, Claiborne achieved his Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.
During his talk, Claiborne stressed that media consumers need to be critical thinkers and analyze the origin of the information presented. Journalism is “not supposed to tell you what to think, but what to think about,” he said.
He explained that audiences consume media that aligns with their own beliefs because “affirmation feels really good.” Claiborne discussed how media outlets will bring in pundits and analyst who do not always speak the truth. These tactics are used to generate more money through fake, yet catching stories. He posed the questions, “at what point does the profitability of a platform come at the expense of your soul?”
Claiborne’s talk excited many students in the audience who are preparing for post-graduate life. “[Claiborne] was very inspirational for me as an English Major,” said John Settles a freshman at Oglethorpe University. “He gave valuable insight into what it takes to be a reporter in today’s media and how to distinguish fact from opinion when misrepresentation of the truth in media occurs.”
His exciting and inspirational message spanned throughout the event as Claiborne answered audience questions and engaged with students, faculty and staff after his talk. Being a former writer for The Stormy Petrel Newspaper, Claiborne had important advice for its current staff. He encouraged students to seek the recognition they deserve, rather than quietly work in the shadows.
Claiborne shared his advice with students who will soon be entering their careers in journalism. He gave the audience a taste of his dedication and passion for his career, hoping to inspire future alumni. Using his experiences, Claiborne emphasized the importance of accountability, critical thinking and work ethic to both the future readers and writers of tomorrow’s news.