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Archive for Friday, February 5, 2010

Pitts tells Lawrence audience that pursuing facts must be the basis of forming opinions

Well-known columnist receives William Allen White Foundation National Citation

Leonard Pitts Jr., a nationally syndicated and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald, talks with those gathered Friday at KU's Woodruff Auditorium. Pitts was presented with the 2010 William Allen White Foundation National Citation.

Leonard Pitts Jr., a nationally syndicated and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Miami Herald, talks with those gathered Friday at KU's Woodruff Auditorium. Pitts was presented with the 2010 William Allen White Foundation National Citation.

February 5, 2010

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Nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts told a Kansas University audience the importance of pursuing truth on Friday.

In an era where facts are becoming increasingly malleable to fit one’s political beliefs, it becomes all the more necessary to think critically before reaching a conclusion, Pitts said.

“We have embarked on an era where many of us believe that all facts are created equal,” he said. “Saying it out loud, putting it online makes it true.”

Pitts came to KU to accept the 2010 William Allen White Foundation National Citation, given annually to a journalist who has made outstanding contributions to the craft.

Past winners include Walter Cronkite, George Will and Bob Woodward. Pitts’ work made him a natural choice for the award, said Tom Eblen, chairman of the William Allen White Foundation, named for the former publisher of the Emporia Gazette and the namesake of the KU School of Journalism.

Pitts has worked as a columnist for the Miami Herald since 1994, before which he worked as a pop music critic. He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004.

“He challenges readers in a way they need to be challenged,” Eblen said.

In his acceptance speech, Pitts challenged the media, particularly newspapers, to sift through lies and challenge inconsistencies — something perhaps done best in the current era by Jon Stewart and his Comedy Central television show, Pitts said.

“Something is wrong when a comedy show performs this function and the media does not,” Pitts said.

Pitts called for people across the political spectrum to go outside the black and white and to “live in the grays.”

He pointed to a number of verifiable facts being questioned by chain e-mails and Internet rumors, such as those who claim that President Barack Obama was not born in Honolulu. Building an argument out of these “false facts” is a bit like trying to build a skyscraper out of sand, Pitts said.

“Eventually, it all comes tumbling down,” he said.

Comments

kugrad 4 years, 7 months ago

An excellent analysis of the problems we are facing today. When people are actually authorities on a subject, they are labeled as "elitist." People think science can come to any conclusion and distrust anything they disagree with. We need a reality check.

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jayhawklawrence 4 years, 7 months ago

Thank you Leonard Pitts.

Your writing continues to show us things we could not see by ourselves.

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Bob Forer 4 years, 7 months ago

Leonard Pitts is tthe last of a dying breed--a journalist and columnist who tries his very best to be intellectually honest. I am amazed that an historically backward institution such as KU would betstow an award on him, especially given his propsenisty to sklifully and ably critique the powers that be. Congratulations, Mr. Pitts. You are A-ok in my book.

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leedavid 4 years, 7 months ago

Wasn't it Leonard Pitts that just wrote, Obama was above being partisan?

Yeah.....we have another one of those that wants us to do as he says not as he does....

He should become a teacher.

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leedavid 4 years, 7 months ago

Defender:

Sure thing....it was the theme of his article just two days ago......in the LJ World no less. He was talking about Obama's outreach to the republican party. The funny thing was Obama then speaks to the democratic party tells them they have the majority and should act like it.

Pitts looks at the situation and comes up with this:

"Too many elected officials seem to think reelection is what matters most. Credit Obama for an earnest, necessary reminder:

Country matters more."

Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/columnists/leonard-pitts/story/1459836.html

Even people on the left can surely look at Obama, his handling of healthcare and see he is not bipartisan. Obama has not put country above politics.

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beaujackson 4 years, 7 months ago

Pitts simply "echos" the usual liberal drivel.

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leedavid 4 years, 7 months ago

grammaddy (Anonymous) says…

Congrats Leonard!!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Yes congratulations for being a columnist and getting an award for being a journalist.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 7 months ago

I wish I could have attended. "think critically before reaching a conclusion..." look at the gray area.... if i could only get my repub relatives to think before forwarding on those same emails he mentioned...

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Mariposa 4 years, 7 months ago

I did attend the talk and I think it is good of KU to offer this to the public for free. There were so many attending that they had to put people in the overflow room. Mr. Pitts advised us to examine what we believe and why we believe it. Which may mean revising your thinking. It seems that a lot of people are fuzzy on what is opinion and what is fact. How do we believe what we read and what we see when images can be as easily manipulated as words? Then there are those who will argue for the sake of argument and who have no interest in right or wrong, but simply want to see if they can make the other person mad, because that is just so funny. Not.

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leedavid 4 years, 7 months ago

Defender (Anonymous) says…

“Sure thing….it was the theme of his article just two days ago……in the LJ World no less.”

Oh, so it's the 'theme', not something Pitts actually said. There for a minute I thought you were being dishonest. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Oh...then what does: "Too many elected officials seem to think reelection is what matters most. Credit Obama for an earnest, necessary reminder: Country matters more.”

Is that partisan in your mind?

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ralphralph 4 years, 7 months ago

Pitts has a point about the "serious" news media not challenging facts, or at least independently examining them.

Example: this morning's regurgitation of the new & improved unemployment rate which miraculously dropped under ten percent after DOL re-tooled the calculation to make more jobs magically appear, even while reporting that the number of jobs actually dropped.

Number of jobs = Down. Unemployment = Also Down. Change of method in determining rate = unmentioned.

Huh?

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leedavid 4 years, 7 months ago

Ralphralph....its that new math. Ever since they started teaching the math with "X's" and stuff, you get results like this. LOL!

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tomatogrower 4 years, 7 months ago

mom_of_three (Anonymous) says… I wish I could have attended. “think critically before reaching a conclusion…” look at the gray area…. if i could only get my repub relatives to think before forwarding on those same emails he mentioned…

A good way to at least stop getting these emails is to go to snopes.com and get the real facts, then send the link back to the person who sent it and everyone who also received it. It probably won't change narrow minded people, but they will eventually take you off their stupid email list.

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Steve Jacob 4 years, 7 months ago

Pitts is just to left for me. Pitts has a love affair with Obama, when he has been nothing special his first year (not bad, just average).

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KansasPerson 4 years, 7 months ago

@tomatogrower, I've tried that for the last several years, but he just keeps sending them...... sigh. I don't want to be disrespectful to an elderly relative, so I just keep deleting them.

@Mariposa, your last paragraph (plus one word) really hits the nail on the head. Thank you.

I don't mind Pitts one way or the other on most days. But his habit of misusing quotation marks (for emphasis rather than for their actual purpose) makes me wonder who his editor is. Whenever he does that, I always think of that old billboard for the Tick Tock "CLOCK" SHOP.

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james bush 4 years, 7 months ago

If we were all the same color, I wonder what Pitts would write about.

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Tony Kisner 4 years, 7 months ago

Lenny has come a long way from being an entertainment reporter. Entertainment tonight to here are the facts as I see them.

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