PBS’ Suarez: be clever, creative, adaptive

With a keen perspective on history’s arc, PBS NewsHour Washington-based correspondent Ray Suarez spends two days on campus
This week we have been re-examining the world from the perspective of Ray Suarez, PBS commentator and this year’s Schwartz visiting fellow. On Sunday evening in Hard Auditorium, he addressed the public about the changing American cultural, economic, and technological landscape. And while his lens is not rose-colored he presented a realistic and perceptive view that acknowledges both good and bad, to come up with a cautionary view for our students of the future that awaits them.

Mr. Suarez engagingly presented himself as a father, a second-generation, first-to-college son of immigrants from Puerto Rico; a successful, soul-searching world-travelled reporter, and a published author. He has worked for CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and NPR. He is, one suspects, what he might call an old guard, who-what-where-when-how journalist. He laments the “descent into triviality” of the New Journalism and the diminishment of thoughtful reportorial work, but also calls Twitter a “revolutionary” tool. And while there are many “dumb” applications of YouTube, he acknowledges the tremendous impact of “videos from Tahrir Square, while it’s happening: You can go looking for democracy in the heart of Egypt’s capital.”

Other Suarez topics included the earthquake-like shifts in our electoral and social landscapes. He likens the decades in front of us to the fifty years of “breakneck change” that followed the American Civil War. Today one in five Americans are Latinos, he said; and that number is growing exponentially. He spoke of the “breathtaking” changes in the economics of education; offered up such tidbits as the fact that the “best interviews often happen in the buffet line,” and that one of his most intriguing interviews was with Margaret Thatcher: “at the end of an hour,” he said of the Iron Lady, “I understood why she was a tremendous success, and why so hated at the same time.”
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