Fox News CEO Roger Ailes delivers 2012 Park Lecture

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Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes speaks in Carroll Hall on Thursday as part of the Roy H. Park Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave advice to aspiring journalists.

The CEO of Fox News has a piece of advice for journalists who want to change the world: Don’t go into journalism.

Roger Ailes spoke Thursday night for the free Roy H. Park Lecture Series, giving advice and pointed commentary on the industry to a room of about 350 people at Carroll Hall.

Ailes, who created Fox News in 1996, said journalists need to take an objective perspective and “report the real numbers and the real facts.

“If you’re going into journalism if you care, then you’re going into the wrong profession,” Ailes said. “I usually ask (journalists) if they want to change the world in the way it wants to be changed.”

Ailes said a journalist’s first responsibility is questioning his or her country.

“Journalism has to act as a watchdog. Not a lap dog, not an attack dog, but as a watchdog,” he said.

But Ailes said journalists must also question the criticism of their country, and prioritize diversity in their ranks.

“We shouldn’t get up every morning saying what did our country do wrong,” he said.

“If there’s an alternative point of view, don’t wet your pants. Suck it up and say, ‘Hey, there’s room for everything.”

Susan King, dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said in an interview that she wanted Ailes to speak because he brings a different perspective.

“Roger Ailes seemed to me to be the important media executive and player that the Park Lecture deserves,” King said.

“I want students to see people they won’t get to see very often. I want them to be exposed to people who are shaping the current media landscape.”

Ailes attributed Fox’s success to its high ratings, and drew a distinction between the company’s commentators and its journalism.

“When you watch it, some people say (the talk shows are) conservative. That’s not the actual journalism,” he said.

Ailes stressed the importance of bringing in money to be able to perform journalism.

“But without a paycheck, you’re not doing it at all,” he said.

“We’re the only news organization who has not had layoffs because of economic conditions. Why? Because we win.”

But there is a disadvantage to winning, Ailes said.

“People will criticize you, particularly if you beat them. They’ll say terrible things about you. They’ll ascribe motives to you, even ones you don’t have,” he said.

After the lecture, reesenews.org Managing Editor Eliza Kern and Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tar Heel Steven Norton interviewed Ailes on stage in a question-and-answer session, which then opened up to the audience.

During the session, Ailes gave pointed criticism on a variety of topics, such as government spending. He also argued that climate change is unproven and that press coverage of Sarah Palin is the worst he has seen since Adolf Hitler.

Sophomore Anna Dillon, a journalism major who attended the event, said Ailes’ opinions were surprising.

“I like to hear people’s point of view and I thought he had a strong one,” Dillon said.

“Then again, he is from Fox News.”

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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