Panelists: The future of the media has never been more vibrant or more complicated

The role of media will always be a major factor in the country, no matter how it is delivered, Bob Schieffer said during the annual Schieffer Symposium on Wednesday night.

“Accurate, independently gathered information is as crucial, and as important and as vital a part of democracy as voting,” Schieffer said.

The symposium featured a panel composed of prominent names that may have been one of the best in the Symposium’s history, Schieffer said. The panel included Michael Eisner, founder of the Tornante Company and former CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Ann Curry, co-anchor of “Dateline NBC” and news anchor on the “Today Show;” Maureen Dowd, columnist for The New York Times and 1999 Pulitzer Prize recipient; and William Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard and columnist for The Washington Post.

Eisner said that even with the basic structures of the media changing, the industry is in great shape and continues to evolve.

“It’s never been more vibrant or more complicated,” Eisner said.

The Schieffer Symposium was created in 2005 and features a panel of media experts with Schieffer serving as moderator. Past participants include Tom Brokaw, Bob Woodward and Tim Russert.

All of the panelists agreed that the Internet will continue to be a huge factor in news because of the amount of information that people can find. Kristol said that even though it may be a burden for producers of traditional news, it is great for the consumers.

The symposium, which was entitled, “A Gridlocked Congress and an Angry Public: What Now is the Role of the Media,” also featured a lot of political discussion.

Curry said that during her international reporting, she did notice a softening in anti-U.S. feelings after the election of President Barack Obama in some parts of the world.

The discussion got a rise out of the audience when Kristol and Eisner traded quips about two politicians who have taken a lot of criticism from the media. Eisner said he thought the Republican nomination of Sarah Palin was not a good choice, and Kristol reminded him of the recent troubles of Democrat John Edwards.

The serious symposium was not without its fair share of humor. Dowd joked that people imagined Sarah Palin as a young and beautiful Dick Cheney, while Kristol wisecracked that Republicans were just trying to become more diverse after their recent snafu at a sex-themed club.

Schieffer ended the discussion encouraging students wanting to get into the industry by telling a story of how he got a job at CBS by luck. He said he walked into an interview that was not meant for him, but was actually meant for Bob Hager, who would go on to become a long-time correspondent for NBC.

“I’m the only person at CBS News who was hired by mistake,” Schieffer said.