Peggy Noonan speaks to students in exclusive Q&A

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Students gathered to hear a discussion about today’s political climate from two significant women in the journalism field.

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Peggy Noonan answered questions from SMU journalism professor, Carolyn Barta, and her students at a Q&A session hosted by the Division of Journalism and the Maguire Center of Ethics and Public Responsibility March 27 in the Owen Arts Center. Noonan was there in conjunction with her lecture, “An Evening of Perspective: Women and the Political Process.”

Peggy Noonan has written several books on politics, religion and culture – including five New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing her weekly column for the Wall Street Journal, she also served as special assistant and primary speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan.

The questions ranged from specifics about her published works and her role as a columnist, her thoughts on fake news, and even her personal feelings about the current president, Donald Trump. Noonan’s answers provided insight into her work and how she views journalism in the current political climate.

“In a way, it is a golden age of journalism,” Noonan said.

Noonan opened the discussion by revealing to the students in attendance about her belief in the importance of reading books.

“Read books to learn how to think,” Noonan said. “Read them to learn how to reflect and ponder. Read them to learn what people thought before you. Read them to calm your mind. Read books to deepen and develop your normal pathways. Make them broader and deeper. Read books to become literate… Read books because if your generation does not, books will disappear, which would be a cultural catastrophe for your country.”

Approximately 100 people, consisting of journalism and CCPA students, SMU faculty, and members of the Maguire Center for Ethics, gathered to hear Noonan speak. Rita Kirk, the William F. May Endowed Director of the Maguire Center of Ethics and Public Responsibility, stressed the significance of hearing the dialogue between Barta and Noonan.

“It’s particularly important for those of us in ethics to understand the problems we have with moral integrity. She (Noonan) is an insightful and thoughtful leader in our country,” Kirk said of Noonan in her introduction.

Both Noonan and Barta are considered to be female powerhouses in politics. What started as an interview turned into a discussion between two disciplined journalists when Noonan claimed that American journalism launched movements such as #MeToo in what she considers to be a fearless moment.

Emily Rule, a journalism and advertising major at SMU, said the Q&A gave her a new appreciation for women journalists who cover politics.

“I thought it was very interesting to hear them talk,” Rule said. “It was less of an interview and more casual banter. I loved hearing each of their opinions about the media and they both dug deeper into the problems that we face today. It was a great look into what to expect in the workforce as a journalism major.”

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