Ted Koppel sounds off

The former host of ABC's 'Nightline' discusses technology, 'The Daily Show' and his time as a SU student.

Ted Koppel is a multi-platform journalist, having worked in television, radio, film and print over the past five decades, but don’t expect him to go viral anytime soon.

“I use my BlackBerry constantly, but that’s about it,” Koppel said during a Homecoming visit to Newhouse on Thursday afternoon.  “I use a laptop, obviously, but I am not a Tweeter, I am not a blogger, I am not a Facebooker.”

Koppel said he is leery of technology that allows a constant drumbeat of news and, like Nightline, the ABC news program he became famous for hosting for 25 years, he likes his news to have a stronger filter.

“There is some kind of law about the bad crowding out the good,” Koppel said.  “I worry that all of this trivial, irrelevant information is having a tendency to crowd out the more important information.”

But Koppel was quick to dismiss the notion that he doesn’t enjoy trivialities.  A frequent guest on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, he said he enjoys their brand of news-entertainment, but cautions the shows' audience against relying too heavily on the programs as a news source.

“If people are under the illusion that by watching these programs they’re getting an adequate diet of the news, it’s like saying, ‘Get a Hershey bar, it’s an adequate substitute for a balanced diet,’” he said.

The current National Public Radio news analyst returned to radio in 2006, revisiting the format he had worked in while a student at Syracuse University, where he was involved with NPR-member station WAER.

“If I tell you that I began on WAER 53 years ago, you’ll understand when I say I’m sure that I have memories, but I can’t recall them,” Koppel said, when asked of his student experience.

But as for his present career, Koppel is glad to be at NPR and has a high opinion of many of his co-workers. 

“They’re intelligent interviewers, people who listen to what their subject is saying and who follow up on an answer,” Koppel explained.  “Those are good people.”

Koppel is in Syracuse this week for SU’s Homecoming weekend, and to host “One on One: Frank Langella and Ted Koppel" with actor and fellow alumnus Langella.

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