MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on covering foreign affairs while keeping the facts straight

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The Shorenstein Center welcomed Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” to discuss the challenges of reporting on global issues in an ever-changing media environment.

Mitchell admitted that there is a “great appetite” for foreign coverage today, but she questions whether “we have the tools” to accurately report on crises, even with social media and other new technologies. “Nothing illustrates the dilemma we face more than Syria,” she said. The lives of journalists have been imperiled, and the narrative of the conflict changes so constantly that the truth is difficult to ascertain. Arguments and counter-arguments by world leaders are often held off the record, making accurate media coverage all the more challenging. “Not for lack of trying,” she said, “but we in mainstream media have done a really inaccurate job of recounting what’s going on there.”

Describing the fast-paced media world that she works in, she said, the “tempo has increased exponentially as we are driven by the web.” Yet she considers herself an “independent fact checker,” and advises other journalists to make sure the facts are correct: “Your biggest job is not to break a story,” she said, “it’s to stop an inaccurate story from getting out.”

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