Q&A: Doug Adams ’88
Doug Adams ’88 (political science) is a producer for the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in Washington, D.C., focusing on elections and Capitol Hill.
By E.J. Crawford ’99
Q: You’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years, arriving during the early years of the 24-hour news cycle and prior to the explosion in digital and social media. With that experience behind you, where do you see news journalism — print, television and new media — heading in the coming years?
A: I think newspapers in some form will continue to exist, but not in the same form. There will always be a place for the physical newspaper that gets delivered to your doorstep every morning, but it’ll never again be the only thing people read. Same thing with television. I’d like to think we’ll continue to do a broadcast every day, but I can see a time where we don’t actually air it. I hope there will always be an outlet for what we do, but people may be going to the web at midnight rather than sitting down at 6:30 to watch it.
Q: Given all the changes in recent years, in what ways have traditional media outlets adopted digital and social media to continue to capture news and tell stories?
A: Twitter has become a real tool for journalists for capturing useful information. There are rare occasions where some story breaks, and we can use pictures or postings from Facebook, but those really are the exception. Twitter, on the other hand, is something we as journalists use every day. Nothing slips past the Twitter universe. If something comes up, something controversial, you’ll start to see Twitter light up about it. It’s our early warning system.
Q: With the increase in coverage, media play a bigger role than ever before in framing an election and the candidates involved. Keeping that in mind, how do you view their responsibility in covering elections?
A: I think it’s crucial for media covering a campaign to tell people what’s important and not let candidates demean or marginalize the process. Our goal is to take a deeper look into things and help people understand the implications of the candidates’ policies and statements. So I see our responsibility as helping people become informed not just about what the candidates are saying, but also what it means.
Q: Any insider predictions for the 2012 election?
A: I used to think I knew a lot about politics. But along came the 1994 election, and I was forever humbled. I thought I knew what was going to happen and completely underestimated the Gingrich-Republican wave. So I try not to make predictions anymore. I think the one thing I can predict is that there will always be some big, unexpected development that surprises us. There always is. And something will happen in the fall — a third-party candidate or a foreign-policy development — that will completely change the dynamics of what we’re all talking about now.