Washington Post publisher delivers commencement speech, warns against a ‘campaign against the truth’

Fred Ryan, the publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, delivered a commencement address Monday to graduates at Wake Forest University.

And he had a few choice words about the precedent being set by President Trump and his calling the press the “enemy of the people” and the on-going “campaign against the truth.”

“In my view, [it] crosses a line when the President of the United States publicly attacks the press, or any of his fellow citizens, as ‘enemies of the people,” Ryan said to the graduates.

President Trump’s language against the press can serve as an “incitement to violence,” Ryan said, with the potential to lead “misguided individuals” to enact terrible attacks against the media.

Attempts to “delegitimize” actual news reporting by calling it “fake news” is an a strategic move by critics to lead society into a “post-truth” era where individuals are expected to accept “alternative facts,” Ryan said.

Ryan went on to say in the current age actual “fake news” is one of the biggest challenges the media industry is currently combating. He added that because of technological advances, false information is “weaponized,” created with the intent to polarize, misinform and instigate.

“These swiftly evolving technologies provide a powerful reminder that ‘fake news’—and other efforts to spread misinformation through our digital networks—will present new, and increasingly complex, challenges in the years ahead,” Ryan said.

Ryan told the graduates that one of the major hurdles for their generation is figuring out the correct balance that technology should play in our society

“Your generation inherits the task of balancing digital technology’s promise against its peril,” Ryan said. “How you respond to these challenges will be felt by society for years to come.”

Nearing the end of his address, Ryan asked graduates to look to the story of the murdered Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi as a guiding light. Khashoggi’s writing pointed a courageous and critical lens at the abuses carried out by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and it ended up costing him his life, Ryan said.

“Jamal’s story should remind us of the power of the truth,” Ryan said. “It is so powerful that people will kill to keep it hidden. It is so powerful that people like Jamal Khashoggi will give their lives in order to bring it to light.”

Henrico Citizen editor wins eight awards from VPC

Patty Kruszewski, managing editor of the Henrico Citizen, recently won eight awards–that included four first-places– in the Virginia Professional Communicators’s 2019 contest.

Kruszewski, who had first-place awards in the personal opinion category feature story writing and specialty writing, will now advance to the National Federation of Press Women competition, which is being held June 29 in Baton Rouge, La.

Judges praised Kruszewski’s writing as having “real color” and “great detail.”