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Old Gold & Black

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Abigail Taylor, Contributing Writer • April 16, 2024

Major Garrett speaks in latest installment of Wofford’s Hipp Lectures

CBS News’ White House Correspondent speaks on contemporary journalism

CBS News’ White House Correspondent Major Garrett visited Wofford on Wednesday Oct. 30. Before his talk in Leonard Auditorium as the latest installment of the Hip Lectures, funded by Wofford alum Van Hip, Garrett participated in two round table discussions with students. The first was with representatives from various student organizations, and the second with students from the Government and International Affairs departments. Much of the discussion at the round table was reflected later in the lecture, especially relating to the state of contemporary journalism.  

Garrett spent a  considerable  chunk of time during the first round table telling his life’s journey up until to the position he is in now. It began with 67 rejection letters, making him the self-admitted biggest failure of his graduating class at the University of Missouri. His trodden path includes jobs with newspapers in Amarilla, TX, Las Vegas and Houston before ending up in Washington D.C.  

A newspaper journalist by trade, the transition to the world of television was a major one. His first time on live television was on the lawn of the White House on CNN. Since then, Garrett has held positions at Fox, as well as currently at CBS, and has made a point of maintaining a sense of professionalism and non-partisanship throughout his career.  

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The prepared lecture portion took only a short while before Garrett opened up the floor to questions. About his book, “Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Blackouts and Scares of an Extraordinary Presidency,” Garrett briefly touched on three points of what is notable about Donald Trump’s presidency. First, there is Trump’s mass appointment of judges to the Federal bench, of which Garrett compiled a list. Second, there is the consistent enforcement of immigration legislation overseen by Trump. Finally, there is his reform to the tax code. In the Q&A section, the conversation fluctuated from further questions on the relationship between the executive and his contentious approach to handling the press to more general discussion of journalism and the evolution of the media.  

Garrett also expressed his views on the state of contemporary journalism, and what that means for young adults looking to enter the profession. His opening lines included a reference to the profession  as a “career with decreasing credibility and record low market share.” 

To double down, in the round table Garrett commented that if he were entering the job market now, he would balk at the idea of journalism. He criticized the profession as increasingly partisan. He countered this, however, by lauding those present for their interest in a career that is more important than ever, as well as extolling the Wofford student body as on par with any other he had seen around the country.  

Garrett had several pieces of advice for those looking to go further in the industry. He strongly encouraged students of all studies to write as much as possible in order to discipline the mind and consequently become a better reader. 

In journalism, said Garrett, there is a saying: “you’re only as good as your next story.”  

The constant search for self-improvement through learning is one that most college students can relate to, regardless of their major or career plans. For success, said Garrett, there is no magical formula; half the battle is putting yourself out there and simply “showing up.”  

Garrett also advised students to resist the urge to create five year plans, or anything of the like. He posited that doing so can create a false sense of self.  He added that one’s plan is not the essence, but rather work is the essence. While it is alright to have ultimate goals, one’s path should not be planned. These words were pertinent to the college student perhaps feeling adrift and unsure of the means to whatever end they have in mind post-grad.   

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