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Covering the world

NPR’s Scott Simon talks about journalism, health care and powder blue neckties.

In the fast-paced world of 24-hour news media, National Public Radio’s Scott Simon is concerned that something might be getting lost in translation.

“I get really dissatisfied with bromides by people who have an argument all figured out,” he said, “and therefore present just one side of it.”

Simon hosts Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR and has reported from all 50 states and around the world. The Peabody Award-winning correspondent spoke at Hendricks Chapel on Tuesday evening and spoke to The NewsHouse beforehand. From covering wars abroad to domestic and government issues, he is a well-versed storyteller. 

“I don’t think stories should be so analytical that they don’t get to the human aspect," Simon said. "But I also think that stories that deliver the human aspect need to be at least in part analytical, so that people can take all the information in."

Simon, who recently underwent spinal surgery, compared journalists to surgeons. He said that both need to be aware of the human element and respect that subjects are people with lives, families and stories. But there needs to be unbiased analysis, or else neither profession could ever get anything accomplished.

Simon said the current health care debate — which he has covered extensively — could be used as an example for covering all types of stories.

“You have to cover that debate, but I think also news organizations ought to cover what it potentially means to people in every strata of society," he said. "And those stories are very important."

Simon took a fresh approach to his most recent on-air essay about health care. He noticed all politicians were wearing powder blue ties. So he ran with it, providing an original angle to the long and ongoing debate.

After years in the field, Simon is always learning new things. For example, “We don’t call it powder blue," he said. "We call it cerulean."

See coverage and photos from Scott Simon at Hendricks Chapel or replay live updates from his talk.

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