By: Tracy Hudson, Metro Editor-in-Chief
Ted Koppel was the keynote speaker at Cuyahoga Community College Foundation’s 2016 Presidential Scholarship Luncheon. The annual event was hosted by Renaissance Cleveland Hotel in the Grand ballroom on November 1, 2016. There were approximately 1,000 community members in attendance for this year’s event.
More than $1.3 million was raised for student scholarships in addition to Medical Mutual donation of $1,000 to a healthcare endowment scholarship fund. Since the launch of the Presidential Scholarship in 1992, the annual event has raised more than $17 million.
Koppel was the anchor and managing editor of Nightline for 26 years. He has worked as a professional journalist for over 50 years. He is known as one of America’s most intelligent and respected journalists. He has earned a plethora amount of awards including thirty-two Emmys, six Peabody’s, nine Overseas Press Club awards, two George Polk Awards and two Sigma Delta Chi Awards.
Koppel shared his experiences and the changes in media in a question and answer session during the luncheon moderated with Rick Chiricosta, Chairperson, Cuyahoga Community Foundation. The atmosphere at the event was quiet while awaiting to hear the words of wisdom from Koppel.
He talked about the way the news was reported 30 – 40 years ago in contrast to the way news is reported on social media. “Journalist check for valid information unlike social media. Social media doesn’t give substance. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion not their own fact. Opinions should not be on the front page facts should,” says Koppel.
The Voice newspaper at Tri-C was able to ask Ted Koppel one question; “Is there anything you covered you wish you would have covered differently?” Koppel replied, “I can tell you this, I’m glad I decided not to cover one assignment. I got a call from the Secretary of State, saying, I understand that you’re going to put this story on the air tonight. And I can’t tell you not to do it, but I would ask you not to, because it seems to us inevitable that if you put it on the air, that the Canadian Embassy would probably be taken, and that the Americans that escaped from the US Embassy would probably be killed.”
“I decided not to go with the report. Only once in my professional career, I killed a story,” says Koppel.
Red gift bags were given to everyone at the event. One of the gifts in the bag was Ted Koppel’s national bestseller novel, Off Camera Private Thoughts Made Public. He provides a year’s worth of daily reflections from the final year of the twentieth century. He speaks his mind in this book. He addresses everything he couldn’t talk about on the job due to restrictions. From cultural diversity to interactive TV, from the problems of racism in America to the dumbing down of network news.
Koppel talked about the election and had everyone laughing while giving him a standing ovation. “I want to tell you why this is arguable the most historic election in history. “If she is elected, it will be the first time two presidents actually slept together. If he is elected, it will be the first time a white billionaire occupied public housing recently vacated by a black family.”
Social media doesn’t always verify their information before it’s posted. “Journalism is an essential fundamental requirement of an informed society,” he said. “News from cable, the internet and social media has led to a less informed society.”
At the end of the event, Koppel was given parting gifts, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame jacket, Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship cap and an Indian’s cap. He said his gifts will impress the hell out of his seven grandchildren.