On talking to the media

Author: Compiled by John Nagy '00M.A..

“I try to respond to every inquiry coming from reporters, only because as a Catholic theologian it is important to be of service to the larger public and one wants to see that they get the facts right. My least-favorite inquiries come from national television news shows since, one, it requires that one go to a television station and wait forever until the linkup is set; and, two, the interviews tend to be reduced to sound bites. I usually turn down talk show hosts like Bill O’Reilly because they are a blight on the media and one never gets in a word edgewise. The best informed interviewers, in my experience, are the reporters for National Public Radio. I also like talking to newspaper reporters, especially if they have the religion ‘beat.’”

— Professor Lawrence Cunningham, theology

“I think of my professional vocation as having three dimensions: teaching, scholarship and service. It seems to me that talking with the media, and sharing my views and analysis through op-eds and magazine articles, can—if done carefully—be both good service and a part of good teaching. Academics are blessed with the time to think hard and the training to write well about things that people need and want to know about. We do good service, I think, not only to our institutions but to our communities and to our fellow citizens by contributing in an accessible way, and untainted (one hopes!) by merely partisan or economic motivations, our expertise to public conversations.”

— Professor Richard Garnett, law

“I believe it is important to get the results of research out not only to colleagues in the guild but also to members of the public, who should find them interesting, important and useful. It can be difficult for me personally to work with journalists, because their procedures and standards and knowledge base are often so different from social scientists’. But I continue to try to keep those relationships and communications open, to make myself available to journalists, for the sake of the dissemination of findings and also to help keep Notre Dame in the public eye, which is good for the University.”

— Professor Christian Smith, sociology