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Democracy

Trevor Noah shared the one question U.S. journalists should be asking themselves every day

"Ask yourself that question every day, because you have one of the most important roles in the world."

Trevor Noah shared the one question U.S. journalists should be asking themselves every day

Trevor Noah has gotten high praise for his closing remarks at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

For the first time in six years, the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD) was held with the president of the United States in attendance on April 30 in Washington, D.C. The WHCD has been a tradition in Washington for more than a century and for the past several decades it has taken the form of a comedic roast of both the government and the press. This year's dinner was hosted by comedian and host of "The Daily Show" Trevor Noah, who's known for his smart, witty commentary on social and political issues.

The "let's invite a comedian to publicly and viciously make fun of us for a couple of hours" idea may be a bit odd, but these events have proven quite popular over the years, with many viral moments (including President Obama's infamous GIF-worthy mic drop) coming from them.

This year's dinner opened with Noah joking about it being a superspreader event, earning some uncomfortable laughter, then the individual roasts commenced. Noah didn't hold back slamming people across the political and media spectrum—all in good fun, of course—including President Biden himself.


But it was Noah's closing remarks that earned the most attention. In his signature style, Noah managed to bring a serious and thoughtful element to a night of ribbing and laughter when he admonished the press to recognize both their freedom and their responsibility.

“If you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities, if you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what’s happening in Ukraine," Noah said. "Look at what’s happening there. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what is happening. You realize how amazing that is?

“In America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Even if it makes your viewers or readers uncomfortable. You understand how amazing that is?" he reiterated.

Noah pointed out that he had just stood there and made fun of the president of the United States and he was going to be fine. Then he contrasted that with the reality Russian journalists are living under Putin.

“Ask yourself this question," he said to the members of the media. "If Russian journalists who are losing their livelihoods … and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing—If they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions—if they had, basically, what you have—would they be using it in the same way that you do?

"Ask yourself that question every day," he said, "because you have one of the most important roles in the world."

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People had high praise for Noah's entire evening of hosting, but especially for his closing remarks. Russia's war on Ukraine has put a spotlight on many things we tend to take for granted, including the freedom of the press.

Journalists do play a vital role in society and it's one they must take seriously. To be fair, most journalists do feel the weight of their responsibility, but the corporatization of news media and a 24/7 news cycle has created a competitive landscape in which coverage is sometimes determined by what will drive traffic or viewers rather than on what's truly newsworthy or important. The demonization of news outlets by some has also created a hostile media environment, and news organizations have to resist the urge to kowtow to the loudest voices or inadvertently amplify the wrong things. Journalists often have to fight for the truth on multiple fronts, sometimes inside their own newsrooms.

Thank you, Trevor Noah, for reminding reporters that the fight is worth it and for using this opportunity to remind the press of its primary purpose with such a simple yet profound question.

Marlon Brando and Sacheen Littlefeather.

Nearly 50 years after Sacheen Littlefeather endured boos and abusive jokes at the Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is issuing a formal apology. In 1973, Littlefeather refused Marlon Brando's Best Actor Oscar on his behalf for his iconic role in “The Godfather” at the ceremony to protest the film industry’s treatment of Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Littlefeather is a Native American civil rights activist who was born to a Native American (Apache and Yaqui) father and a European American mother.

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via Pixabay

A father cradling his infant son.

It's almost impossible to be handed a baby and not immediately break into baby talk. In fact, it seems incredibly strange to even consider talking to a baby like one would an adult. Studies have shown that babies prefer baby talk, too.

Researchers from Stanford found that babies prefer to be spoken to in baby talk or “parentese” as scientists refer to the sing-songy cooing we do when talking to infants.

“Often parents are discouraged from using baby talk by well-meaning friends or even health professionals,” Michael Frank, a Stanford psychologist, told Stanford News. “But the evidence suggests that it’s actually a great way to engage with your baby because babies just like it–it tells them, ‘This speech is meant for you!’”

The big question that has eluded scientists is whether parentese is a universal language or varies by culture.

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Bobby McFerrin demonstrated the power of the pentatonic scale without saying a word.

Bobby McFerrin is best known for his hit song “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” which showcased his one-man vocal and body percussion skills (and got stuck in our heads for years). But his musicality extends far beyond the catchy pop tune that made him a household name. The things he can do with his voice are unmatched and his range of musical styles and genres is impressive.

The Kennedy Center describes him: “With a four-octave range and a vast array of vocal techniques, Bobby McFerrin is no mere singer; he is music's last true Renaissance man, a vocal explorer who has combined jazz, folk and a multitude of world music influences - choral, a cappella, and classical music - with his own ingredients.”

McFerrin is also a music educator, and one of his most memorable lessons is a simple, three-minute interactive demonstration in which he doesn’t say a single word.

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