This week, another exceptional TFAS alumnus joins us on the Liberty + Leadership Podcast: Paul Glader ’99, ’00, full professor and program chair of the Journalism, Culture and Society program at The King’s College in New York City, where he directs The McCandlish Phillips Journalism Institute and the NYC Semester in Journalism. He is also Executive Director of The Media Project and Executive Editor of its award-winning, nonprofit news outlet ReligionUnplugged.com. He is co-founder of Vett Inc / VettNews.com.
In this week’s episode, Roger and Paul discuss his early days as a cub reporter, his 10-year run at The Wall Street Journal, and the importance of covering the roll of religion in public life.
The transcript below is lightly edited for clarity.
Roger Ream [00:00:00] Hello and welcome. I’m Roger Ream and this is the Liberty and Leadership Podcast, a conversation with TFAS alumni who are making a real impact in politics, public policy, government, business, philanthropy, law, and the media. Today, Liberty and Leadership is joined by Paul Glader, a leader in journalism and media and an alumnus of the TFAS Journalism and Communication Class of 1999 and the TFAS Prague Program, Class of 2000. Paul currently teaches journalism at The King’s College in New York and is Executive Director of the Media Project. Paul’s written for numerous national outlets, including USA Today, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Associated Press and Bloomberg, just to name a few. And he was with The Wall Street Journal for almost ten years. Paul’s experience is unique, for many of his TFAS peers, in that he is still actively involved in the capacity of returning to a program where he is teaching students about business reporting and ethics. I’m looking forward to hearing about lessons you’ve learned in liberty and leadership, Paul. Thanks for joining me today.
Paul Glader [00:01:16] Thanks, Roger. It’s great to talk with you.
Roger Ream [00:01:17] I think the timing of this is great since you returned not long ago from our European Journalism Institute in Prague. So I want to get to that. But before we do. Talk to me a little bit about your TFAS experience in our Journalism and Communications Program in 1999. I know you came here from South Dakota. I don’t know if it was your first visit to Washington, but your first immersive experience in this type of program.
Paul Glader [00:01:40] It might have been my first visit to Washington at all. I was a rising junior, I believe in college. And as you said, from the University of South Dakota, I had a few professors who knew the program and told me to apply. Back then, it was called, I believe, the Institute for Political Journalism (IPJ). It sounds like you’ve done some brand streamlining since then. And yeah, I mean, one of the phenomenal things about it was that summer in D.C., I think TFAS gave me some scholarships and I had a political science professor who had raised money and they had a scholarship fund for students. I remember at the end of the summer writing a thank you note to whoever had donated to the Fund for my scholarship and just feeling like so much gratitude for that person and wanting them to know the kind of experience I had because I mean, we stayed at that time at Georgetown across, from Georgetown. And we took classes from professors from from that school. And, you know, I was with, I think, 60 or 80 people in my program from all over the country, from community colleges to Ivy League schools. And I made some lifelong friends in that program, enjoyed the classes immensely. And I interned that summer at Gannett News Service in Washington, D.C., just over the Key Bridge. Yeah, it was just a great summer of getting out of my comfort zone, getting out of South Dakota. And I tell students to this day, up until that point, I always thought I would you know, this is the nineties. Newspapers are still a big deal back then, I always thought I would work at the Omaha Paper or the Minneapolis or the Indianapolis Paper were kind of the highest sites I had for myself. And that summer in D.C., I met all these people. I encountered these classes, I reported on Capitol Hill at Gannett News Service and I think the program gave me one of the awards for reporting or something at the end. And I remember just feeling ten feet taller and feeling like, you know what, maybe I could make it in D.C. or New York. And yeah, you know, it literally, I think just changed my trajectory and thoughts about what I would do in life. And it’s one of the things that I think we could talk about later, I guess, but it’s caused me to kind of try to do the same thing for other people, for other younger people.
Roger Ream [00:04:01] You did receive our John Chamberlain Award for print journalism, which we used to give out to a student each summer named after a great journalist and syndicated columnist and business reporter named John Chamberlain, who I had the privilege to know. And he was a remarkable man. At one point, he wrote book reviews for The New York Times, and he reviewed a book, I think every day, five days a week. And he would read them all too. Let me ask you, how did you develop this interest in journalism? You came to our program as a junior in college, but was it in college? Was it before that, that you kind of set your sights on being a journalist?
Paul Glader [00:04:40] It’s a great story and kind of a long story, so I’ll try to hit the high points quick and short. I started writing for a paper in South Dakota, the Rapid City Journal for the opinion pages when I was a teenager and I came from an unusual background a bit. My dad was a minister in South Dakota, I was home schooled. And I had a very unusual meeting, I would say, with the editor at the paper in Indianapolis when I was 15, 16 at a conference and ended up working for a few years before college at the editorial page at The Indianapolis then called the Indianapolis News, which later merged with its morning paper, The Indianapolis Star. So I kind of was fortunate maybe to be one of the last of this era of cub reporters mentored on the job in a newsroom. And that really, I think, helped put me ahead in some ways when I went to college, got a scholarship to University of South Dakota. But it was also, I think, why I thought I was going to be a midwest person and a newspaper guy. My whole life based in the Midwest, I had these great mentors and opportunities in the Midwest. And so, again, I think some of my mentors and professors started just prodding me, saying, Hey, why don’t you do a summer program and go to this place or that place. And here’s this place, TFAS in D.C. that has good internships. So, you know, I was still testing it all through college, trying to determine did I want to be a journalist my whole life or was this just a great place I was temporarily learning and doing. But over time, I mean, I thought about going into law. I thought about going into business, some different opportunities that emerged over time in college. But I kept just having this sense that journalism is important. Journalism is fun. It’s endlessly engaging for curious people who, you know, like to learn and report. And I enjoyed writing. I enjoyed everything about it. I enjoyed the adventures I had with journalism, whether it was in D.C. or Prague. I did the TFAS Program in Prague the summer after D.C., as you mentioned and I just felt you might say called or compelled that it was the most fun I could have with my life and something significant I could do with my life.
Roger Ream [00:06:58] Well, I tell you, we have something in common. I don’t know that I recall discovering before and that is I’m also a PK from the Midwest. Wisconsin. I thought it was great growing up in a home where my father was a minister, even though sometimes people think it’s a difficult job to be the minister’s son and expect you to obey, you know, to behave in a perfect way. But it gave me bedrock convictions and I imagine it did so for you as well.
Paul Glader [00:07:28] Absolutely. And I think an ongoing theme. I mean, I work at a Christian college here in New York now, as you noted. And I’d say over time, I think regarding the topic of liberty, you know, I work in journalism and I see the role of press freedom and what that means in our society. I covered business. I understand, I think the role of economic freedom and also both as someone working in a Christian college who grew up in a Christian home and who’s someone who’s traveled a lot and engaged with religion in many contexts. I see the role of religious freedom, too, as another engine of liberty and freedom in our history, in our Constitution. That’s so important. So I think TFAS was certainly part of some of that understanding of liberty and what we need to cherish and safeguard.
Roger Ream [00:08:18] Tell me a little bit about the institution you work for, The King’s College in New York City, right in the heart of it all. Founded, what, some 20 years or so ago? Maybe longer than that, but tell us a little more about that.
Paul Glader [00:08:31] Yeah. I mean, Kings has been in New York City proper in Manhattan for about 25 or 30 years. Its history goes back, I think, closer, like 80 years now. And it’s a small liberal arts Christian college not connected to any one denomination or church. And this faculty signed a statement of faith, but students don’t have to sign a statement of faith. So most of the students do come from, I’d say, the Christian community. And by that I mean Protestant, Catholic, Eastern, Orthodox, broad Christendom. But we also have students who are atheists, Muslim, Jewish, all kinds of different backgrounds. And I really actually like that kind of sort of freedom of belief in our own walls here for the student body. We’re located a block from the Stock Exchange on Broadway. And so that’s a really exciting place to be for business and finance majors. And any majors and for journalism students are right in the heart of New York City. So there’s great opportunities for internships and jobs. And you know how I got here, I was a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal for about a decade, and I think all the experiences I had in education made me feel that education was a special place, an institution, you know, in our society, and that I’d one day might want to work part time or something at a college as a professor. And so at the Journal, any time a high school or college class would ask me to guest speak or to fly out and give a, you know, two day seminar or guest teaching on something, I always said yes and would find a way to say yes. So when I was in New York, King’s College, at one point, a few people there knew me and asked if I would teach an adjunct class. So I did that once, twice, three times. And then, long story short, when I was in Europe for a while when I was moving back to New York, they offered a visiting professorship and I did that. And we managed to build some programs in journalism and land some grants. And we’ve really, I think, built up a nice boutique journalism major with, again, a lot of, I think success. I would say, as an undergrad program I think my team, Clemente Lisi and others here on our journalism team with me, we’ve managed to build a program that I think pound for pound would compete very well. Our student outcomes and success stories against, you know, in comparison to any undergraduate journalism program in the country. We model it on some of the things that we saw at really top grad programs like at Columbia where I went to grad school, where my colleague went to grad school, etc.. Just as a side note, I mean things that I saw TFAS doing while I try to model and bring that into the programs I do. And frankly, because TFAS was such a great program for me, I’m delighted to tell my students they should go to TFAS sometime for the summer to get an experience in D.C. and I think I had some this summer who were going there. So again, there’s one nice thing about education. You get to use things, tricks and tips and ideas you learn from, about teaching or whatever, about mentoring from your favorite profs, and also collaborate with some of your favorite programs.
Roger Ream [00:11:36] Yeah, indeed. This summer I talked to a student who was a student of yours at The King’s College who attended our program here in Washington. And I believe we’ve had at least one of your students win a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship in the past. So that’s a sign that you have a really strong program there.
Paul Glader [00:11:54] Yeah.
Roger Ream [00:11:55] And you came to it with just really great journalism experience. I should ask you about that. Almost ten years at the Wall Street Journal, I recall seeing your pieces covering General Electric, other major companies. What was that experience like being a reporter for The Wall Street Journal? We’ve had graduates of our program on the editorial page. We’ve had a few as reporters, but I’d like to hear more about that. Because I know, as I recall, you really specialized, right?
Paul Glader [00:12:26] Yeah, I was selected to their internship program out of college, it was competitive then and I think it’s even more competitive now. Like I think there’s maybe a thousand or something people who applied when I applied and 20 of us got it. So that was hard to get. Now I think they have six or 8000 people apply for their internship program. So there are some reasons for that, but in the industry, basically it felt like, you know, landing in the big leagues and learning from just really incredibly talented reporters and editors. And it was just a dream. I mean, I enjoyed the news reporting as well as the feature writing that we did for page one. And I covered a variety of beats. I was on the health and science team as an intern and also covered technology and another time as an intern in San Francisco. I wrote a travel column for a year on the weekend section and then I switched into covering companies and moved to Pittsburgh and covered the global metals and mining industries, which I think was my favorite period at the Journal for a bunch of reasons. And then I covered GE during the financial crisis, as well as Siemens and Philips and others kind of competitors of GE. But these big industrials and, you know, that was also quite an education and an interesting time to be covering the economy. And I feel, to be honest, I mean, I did end up going and getting an MBA after that at a school in Germany. But I felt being a Wall Street Journal reporter was almost like getting an MBA, because you’re talking to fascinating people every day, traveling to interesting places and covering the mechanisms of the economy and, you know, business strategy and the stock market and the players. It’s a lot like being a sportswriter, but there’s winners and losers. There’s money that people are earning or losing all the time, strategies that are working and not working. And it was a fantastic career. And thankfully, you know, I still am involved in business journalism a bit too. I trained this year, I had about 39 students in the Dow Jones News Fund Internship. So I run a training program and help place those summer interns, different business outlets around the country. I teach business journalism at King’s, so I’m still pretty involved in, you know, in this space. But as you get older and have kids, you kind of have to decide, do you become an editor? I feel fortunate. I was able to switch into academia and have a little more balance in my life because, you know, business reporting, it does have some better work life balance and hours, but it’s still very rigorous. Grinding can be tough, you know, if you’re competitive and, you know, sort of hard driving personality in that space to turn it off. And so for me, I’m in a situation where I get to still do journalism but also teach it and have a little more flexibility in my life, which is nice. And thankfully, you know, a lot of our students at King’s, we have now working at CNBC and Fortune Magazine and a whole bunch of other outlets in the biz journalism space.
Roger Ream [00:15:40] That’s great. But speaking of getting married and having children, as I recall, you met your wife through a TFAS Program, is that correct?
Paul Glader [00:15:49] Yes. So TFAS has just always stuck in my mind. It’s such a special institution and programs that I got to be part of. And I would get mailings and I think I started to make, you know, little donations here and there when I could when I was a reporter at the Journal and I was first in Pittsburgh. And so I think someone at TFAS called me at some point and said, Hey, we actually have a lot of alums there in Pittsburgh and we’d love to have a have a dinner with them and would you kind of help host it? And so I did. And then we created a little alumni chapter and we ended up meeting a lot of like minded people, some friendships and some cool events in Pittsburgh. And I enjoyed all of that and I was on the alumni council. Then I moved back to New York at one point and TFAS again called and said, Hey, we just lost our alumni chapter coordinator there. Would you take that on? So I thought, you know, with my busy schedule I couldn’t volunteer, mentor as much as I’d like to, but I thought, well, this will be the thing I’ll give back, you know, to TFAS. I’ll try to help organize events for alumni and maybe we could raise a scholarship fund. We tried doing some techniques and coming up with ideas we could give back. But for me, it ended up being very productive because at one event we had my wife, who’s another TFAS alum from a different year than me. She came to the event and we realized we had a lot in common. I got her to help plan the next event and you know, not too much longer after that. We ended up, you know, we were dating, got married and had her first kid. And so TFAS is a special, you know, common institution for us as well.
Roger Ream [00:17:25] I think I’ve mentioned this before on this podcast, but that’s why one alum who met his wife at our program refers to us as the world’s most expensive dating service.
Paul Glader [00:17:33] Yeah.
Roger Ream [00:17:34] We have had quite a few marriages among TFAS students and alums over the years and that’s a wonderful, wonderful story. And you have children now from TFAS.
Paul Glader [00:17:50] One day hopefully I can visit them in D.C. or something if they get to do it, which I hope they will do a TFAS Program.
Roger Ream [00:17:55] Yeah, we have quite a few of those too of TFAS alums sending their children now to programs. So that’s a good reflection on satisfaction of our alumni. Well, you’ve been involved in lots of other activities, The Media Project being one of them that we partner with now for a program in Prague. Could you talk about that and tell us a little more about what that project’s all about?
Paul Glader [00:18:20] Yeah, I kind of joke that I’m going through a to use a religion language. I’m going through a slow conversion from business reporter to religion reporter, because The Media Project is a international nonprofit, initially led by a Norwegian man who was a journalist as well as a minister. And he passed away in 2015, I believe it was 2014, I’m sorry. And I was consulting them on some of their nonprofit work. And then they asked me to step in and become executive director. And we’re an international network of journalists. We have, I think, at least 2000 members now who get our monthly emails and some who’ve attended some of our programs. And The Media Project provides about five educational programs each year, including the EJI Program in Prague that we partner with TFAS on. And we also, because we have all these journalists, some of whom like to do religion reporting. Our theme, by the way, is, you know, there’s many great nonprofits out there that train journalists in different aspects and try to help people in their careers and professional development. But we found very few focus on the role of religion in public life, the role of religious freedom, the role of religion in society, the role of religious understanding. And so that’s our specialty in every program we participate in. We just try to add that, bring that to the table and help people learn how to cover religion. And we opened online news magazine called ReligionUnplugged.com and we have a lot of contributors from all over the world. We published 10 to 15 pieces a week slow journalism and that’s really taken off. It’s doubled and tripled, you know, every year since 2019 when we launched it. We’ve won a lot of awards and become, I think, a player and a fixture now in the religion reporting space, providing a global lens on stories, also being a platform where younger journalists can cut their teeth and learn how to do religion reporting. And I think our thesis, one of the mantras I’ve been using lately is that we were interested in religion, in public life and in people’s lives. And we think it’s important for journalists to see the religion angle in stories and in the news and to add in people’s lives and not to ignore it, but to see how and when to to include it. And that’s our our thesis. And we have a lot of fun. We’re again growing and we’re really excited about some of the training programs underway. The one in Prague we just had was fantastic.
Roger Ream [00:20:55] I’ve seen polling data, but not recently that indicates a very small percentage of reporters in major media attend church at all. Maybe you’ve seen similar data. I don’t know. But maybe that just calls for the importance of your work because major reporters, when there’s a religious angle to a story, just don’t know how to cover it.
Paul Glader [00:21:18] Yeah, I think, you know, there’s been attempts at surveys like you’re talking about. I’ve seen the kind of mentions here, there, but I’ve never seen a conclusive data set. But I think there’s a generally accepted notion even by people that, you know, The New York Times and BuzzFeed friends who are editors there, that they know that their staff tends to be more secular or less religious than the general public in America. And that’s good that they recognize that and see that like we do as an issue that needs to be addressed. Because part of the issue is leaving out religion and just trying to ignore that or see that as not important. Things like sports we know are important. We know like certain things are very important to people. But so religion should be among those factors because even in the West, we might see declining levels of devoutness. It’s still huge. It’s still massive. And perhaps inverse of the newsroom. So yeah, part of our thesis is making sure people are trained even if someone is not religious, how to understand, recognize and respect sort of religion and people’s lives. And it’s complicated covering religion. So we like to get into all the complications and nuances of how one does that. But, you know, part of the nuance complication is that mainstream media tends to also use certain stereotypes and archetypes, sometimes for different religions and religious people. And so certainly stories about conflict are important and are part of religion coverage. But if you’re a news outlet and those are the only stories you’re doing about religion, that doesn’t seem to match up with one might say, the experience of religion in people’s lives. So it’s good for I think, any editor publication that wants to cover society to take a kind of a careful look at how are we covering a religion, are we covering it thoroughly, meaningfully, or are we covering it sort of in a reductionist way or, you know, stereotypical way?
Roger Ream [00:23:12] Yeah. And so in Prague this summer, we gathered, you know, a few dozen journalists from around the world. Can you tell me a little bit about the curriculum of that program and the value it brings to those young journalists?
Paul Glader [00:23:27] Absolutely. We’ve experimented for a few years with the Prague Program and this year we were at Anglo-American University, which is in Mala Strana, just beneath Prague Castle, beautiful location. And we were offering credits. So I think four ECTS or two U.S. credits for the first time. And we had 24 students. These students were from all over the world, not just Central Europe. I mean, there was, I think five from Bulgaria, three from Georgia. Georgia as in near Russia, not near Atlanta. We had students from Palestine, Iraq, Chile, Venezuela, all over the place from the United States. And this group really bonded. And this is the first year from the curriculum standpoint we kind of weeded out a couple of topics because from the early days I was teaching on business reporting and ethics and we thought, okay, business reporting should be a draw. It’s you know, it’s employable skills and might draw some people. And we had some aspects of religion reporting, photojournalism. We started getting too many different kinds of beats and topics. So this year we streamlined and decided to switch more even towards one united topic on religion reporting. And so we had a couple of PhDs, Ibrahim Al- Marashi, who’s also an alum of TFAS and is an excellent professor on history, knows a lot about Islam and other world religions. We also had Dr. Paul Marshall from Baylor and Hudson Institute is excellent on, you know, on blasphemy laws and on also history. And so we had some real intellectual content about religion and how to think about, understand history and religion and context. And then we had practitioners like Sean Gallup from Getty Images in Berlin, David Rocks from Businessweek in Berlin, both of whom speak Czech, used to live in the Czech Republic and cover the region. So they really provide some great understanding. And then I taught on religion reporting and I gave a couple of assignments, we all gave different assignments on readings and some photo and writing, workshopping, etc. But the main graded assignment I gave, well the mini assignment was students had to interview each other about their faith and write about it. And then the final assignment was they had to report on religion in the Czech Republic, which is arguably or by some measures the most atheistic country in the world.
Roger Ream [00:25:59] Yet it has a beautiful cathedral.
Paul Glader [00:26:01] Oh, yes, a fascinating religious history, Dionysus and beautiful cathedrals and was part of the Holy Roman Empire at times. And it had a vibrant Jewish quarter. So I almost wondered, is this a little ridiculous or ironic? Is it man bites dog? Can you find religion in a place that’s supposed to be irreligious? And I’d say, you know, it turned out that the papers I’m reading so far were just fantastic. And the students really engaged both with the history and just getting out on the streets and understanding the way religious life, spiritual values and beliefs take shape, even when for people who aren’t part of an organized church anymore, they saw that in some of their stories. There’s very few Muslims in the Czech Republic, but one of our Muslim students found one of the only halal places, a restaurant that doubles as kind of a mosque where people pray in the Czech Republic. So another student explored the Jewish quarter and the history. So I think we turned out a lot of really interesting reporting and we’re going to turn some of that into a story or a set of stories for Religion Unplugged. And, you know, it accomplished, I think a couple of things. One, people realized like squeezing blood from a stone. You can find stories anywhere about religion or anything, even in a so-called most atheistic country on earth, having students kind of talk about values and beliefs and learn how to do that with respect and civility was pretty powerful. I think it taught them tolerance. It bonded them as a group to get on that level with one another. And to me, I think in our society, both in the United States and in other places, we’re seeing such polarization, such demonization, such labeling cliches and, you know, canceling of one another. And so I felt kind of the week we had there, getting so personal on a topic. You’re not supposed to talk about religion, politics at the dinner table, but I think learning how to talk about politics and religion if not on Twitter but in real life is a real skill. And I think we saw the power of that in these young people. And you know, they really bonded with one another. I have a feeling they’ll be staying in touch and visiting each other and maybe coming to more TFAS Programs, etc., in the future.
Roger Ream [00:28:19] Excellent. Well, Paul, the media has really seen seismic shifts in the past 30 years since you’ve been in it. You know, it seems like we have a much more segmented media. Certainly with the cable channels we find our own and stick to those rather than, you know, listening to other sources. I know Fred Barnes, you know, prominent political journalist who’s been involved with us, predicted probably 30 or 40 years ago that we’d see media bias come to an end. And he admits that quite the opposite. You know, the papers have decided to choose a side and very little objective reporting going, taking place anymore. How do you see the future of the media? Do you think it’s a career that young people should contemplate entering, or is the media nearing its end as a kind of as we know, journalism?
Paul Glader [00:29:16] Yeah, it’s a really thoughtful and important question because I share concerns about the news media, the state it’s in, the discussion of what’s wrong with the media. I think we’ve got to start with a recognition that one, journalism is important to society and a whole bunch of studies. Gallup, you know, Pew Research and a bunch of others are showing us that there is a declining trust in news journalism that’s quite dramatic. That’s a huge problem for society. And I think it’s not just to me, it’s not just the declining trust in news brands, it’s the declining trust in institutions. It’s the declining trust in government institutions, business institutions. I think it’s sort of packaged together. Maybe it’s also declining trust in religious institutions. That’s the 50,000 foot view. I’m concerned about that distrust. Does it mean someone should not go into journalism? I would say. No, the opposite. I think we are in an era where technology, we have a new epoch just like Johann, you know, Gutenberg introduced the printing press. The Internet has done that in the last 20, 30 years here. And it’s never been cheaper to become a publisher. But we’re still seeing the early innings of that phenomenon where all of us are publishers, are pseudo journalists in some way. I think, in short, you know, we’ve seen an explosion of quantity of media and we’re trying to figure out how do we regain the quality of media, especially in journalism ethics. It took time to establish. It took a lot of the 20th century to figure out standards in ethics, professional practice, and to recognize, you know, how some of those standards and ethics around fairness created bigger audiences and, you know, strong business models, etc.. So we’re reinventing a lot of this. And I think that we can and will do it. And I think it’s an exciting place for young, entrepreneurial, innovative, committed journalists to be. And I am not giving up hope that what one might call the American journalism model can flourish. You know, I think Fred Barnes, you started, I think by talking about his quote, Fred’s a wonderful person and I kind of agree. I probably agreed with him that we could have center institutions that practiced American journalism that, you know, we could reduce bias. But it does look like we’re tilting toward a more European model, one might say, or more, as some journalism historians talk about one that’s polarized the way our social media is polarized. I just don’t think, I still don’t believe, though, that we are destined to that and that it’s going to remain that kind of journalism forever.
Roger Ream [00:31:58] Well, that’s a very encouraging perspective. And I hope you’re right. It leads me to ask if in Prague at our program there. Do you sense a different approach to journalism from the students coming from Europe versus you said there were students from Chile and Venezuela versus the students you reach at The King’s College? The Americans. Do they have a different conception of what the job of a journalist should be or do they all kind of believe it’s one of, you know, digging up stories, reporting facts, presenting readers?
Paul Glader [00:32:34] I mean, if anything, you hang around international people from Venezuela, from Ukraine. We had a young woman from Ukraine who, you know, you chat with at lunch and you hear about her family still being 13 miles from a border where there’s you know, there’s bombs dropping, but they can’t leave because when parents in the military and other parents, you know, working at an energy plant. And you hear these kinds of stories and you hear the kind of journalism people like these folks are working on. And one can’t help be struck that like, again, the importance of of information, quality information, and one can’t help, I mean, they get it. They get the importance of a free press, of a rigorous, fair press. And if anything, some of the I think, kibitzing in the American media about some of our problems seem so much smaller. American life, when when you hang around with international people and I’m sure you see that, too, from the programs, you know, that you’re involved in, the kinds of people you’re meeting. And I almost wish I could give a, you know, round trip ticket for everybody in America to come and be a fly on the wall. And just to kind of be around some of these people and to hear about some of the issues, some of the sort of, you know, religious persecution, outright war, the traumas people are going through that are that are quite real and, you know, authoritarian governments, restrictions on the press, restrictions on, you know, economic freedom, religious freedom. Frankly, I really wish more Americans could understand and care about some of those issues rather than some of the issues we seem to get so enthralled with here at times, whether from the right or the left, you know, buzzwords and memes and yard signs and stuff.
Roger Ream [00:34:07] I’ve had that same wish that, you know, donors could sit in the classroom at all of our programs. I used to say working with young people at The Fund for American Studies keeps me young, but now that I’ve aged, I can say it keeps me optimistic about the future because the young people come in, you know, some full of idealism, but really committed to seeing how they can make the world a better place, how they can be part of solutions and problem solving in their careers. It is encouraging to work with these young people. And I know you see that both in the program we co-sponsored together in Prague and the great students you teach at The King’s College and elsewhere. It does give you hope for the future, doesn’t it?
Paul Glader [00:34:50] Yeah, the future involves, I think, people who come from a variety of these backgrounds and locations and encounter big ideas, you know, are reading material that they might not encounter normally in a school classroom or in their workplace, and being challenged or being put around the table, around the classroom with other people who are similarly entrepreneurial, innovative, intellectually curious, motivated. These are you know, it’s it’s an honor to invest, you know, in many ways. And it’s a no higher honor than to invest in people. I think that’s really at the heart of what those of us who get to work in education or with programs and nonprofits like TFAS and The Media Project, it’s ultimately what we get to do is we get to invest so much every year, every day into people and into ideas about, you know, liberty, freedom, opportunity. What is the good, the common good for flourishing for them and for their societies where they come from.
Roger Ream [00:35:56] Yeah. As our program winds down each summer and I talk to students almost in focus groups really at the end of the program and asked them, you know, did this program influence your thinking, was it transformative in any way? You know, you get just a range of answers. But, you know, I had one young woman recently say, you know, my professor referred to an essay by F.A. Hayek, you know, Nobel Prize winning economist called The Use of Knowledge in Society. So I got it. I read it, and I’m going to write my thesis on it now at University of North Carolina, or the professor showed us the Index of Economic Freedom. And I realized that what matters most in a society in terms of human flourishing is the ideas and institutions that adopts not, you know, who the ruler is or whether they have a lot of natural resources or a large or small population. It’s about ideas and institutions. And, you know, it’s just encouraging to see students who are curious, which is an important part of leadership, is being curious and looking for ideas and answers. And we see that in our programs all the time. And that’s why it’s such a pleasure to partner with you with this program for journalists. We’re running out of time, but I did want to ask you if you could offer any advice to, you know, a young person who maybe hasn’t decided to go into journalism, but just is in college and going to be setting off on a career. And, you know, they’re kind of trying to figure out what to do with their life that’s ahead of them. They want to be leaders. Do you have any kind of general advice you’d give to your students or to young people in general about how to how to make a difference in the world?
Paul Glader [00:37:35] Yeah, I mean, I think read widely, read deeply. If we are in another countercultural moment like there was in the sixties or seventies, I think the countercultural thing to do is to get off of social media sometimes and read great books and to figure out how to break some of the negative trends that we’ve talked about. When it comes to journalism and citizenship I think it’s countercultural to figure out how do I be a good citizen, a good entrepreneur? And I think, you know, you vote with your feet and you pay for quality. We’re in the subscription world where we pay for Netflix and our subscriptions to everything. So you make a statement and you feed your mind by what you pay for and what you spend time on. And so, I mean, I think the most radical, important thing to do is for young people to figure out how can I be a healthy and flourishing person and create healthy and flourishing communities and societies? And I think it goes back when you look at the data and you wrestle with the literature and experience, I think it goes to the heart of I think what TFAS is about, what The Kings College and The Media Project are about around how do we pursue civility, how do we operate with respect, how do we foster free speech and liberalism, and how do we champion entrepreneurship and new models that create quality and civility? So I think those are some of the things I try to emphasize with my students in different ways and different discussions that I think I’ve seen so far ten years into my second career, I guess as a professor and still doing journalism, I think those that kind of advice serves people well. And I’m so proud when I see people that I know are making a difference and flourishing.
Roger Ream [00:39:31] Well, thank you for sharing your story with us, Paul. This has been very enlightening and informative. Thank you for listening to the Liberty and Leadership Podcast. Please don’t forget to subscribe, download like or share the show on Apple, Spotify or YouTube or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, I ask you to rate and review it, and if you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast at TFAS@podcast.org. The Liberty and Leadership Podcast is produced at K Global Studios in Washington, DC. I’m your host Roger Ream and until next time show courage in things large and small.
About the Podcast
TFAS has reached more than 46,000 students and professionals through academic programs, fellowships and seminars. Representing more than 140 countries, TFAS alumni are courageous leaders throughout the world forging careers in politics, government, public policy, business, philanthropy, law and the media.
Join TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 as he reconnects with these outstanding alumni to share experiences, swap career stories, and find out what makes their leadership journey unique. With prominent congressmen, judges and journalists among the mix, each episode is sure to excite your interest in what makes TFAS special.
If you have a comment or question for the show, please email podcast@TFAS.org.
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