(WTVO) – One of the journalists famous for uncovering the Watergate scandal has some blunt advice for journalists today.
Carl Bernstein, now a political analyst for CNN, spoke to the outlet this week about his new memoir “Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom.” Bernstein criticized the information-gathering tactics that are used today, saying “it’s not rocket science.”
“Today we see how many stories, if we call them that, are done by people who google things and say, ‘Oh, this is how I’m going to get the story,'” he said. Bernstein said “You have to listen to people and you have to learn their stories…you just keep persevering.”
Bernstein, along with Bob Woodward, worked at the Washington Post in the 1970s and exposed the Watergate scandal that led President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974. He told CNN that more current forms of journalism put the news local, including television, much out of favor throughout America.
“We have a thing on TV, in particular … get a good quote that seems to be controversial, go back, put it on the air,” Bernstein said. “It’s not the best version of the truth you can get. He tries to manufacture controversy. This is not what our job should be.
His first job in journalism was a five-year apprenticeship at the Washington Star newspaper in the early 1960s, where he helped cover events such as the JFK assassination, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 1963 march on Washington. Bernstein reflected on this early learning in his book.
“It seemed like these reporters and editors were running the most pressing errands in the country,” Bernstein wrote. “I realized at that moment that I wanted to be a journalist.”
There, Bernstein said he learned “common sense” reporting skills, such as being an observer and a good listener. He also suggested getting out of work to talk to people, where they might be more willing to talk.
“Of course you have a preconceived idea of what the story might be,” Bernstein told CNN. “But then you get out of the office and you meet real people and you get sources and you keep knocking on doors and you learn these amazing things.”