Stirewalt returns to West Virginia to promote ‘Broken News’
Chris Stirewalt, right, promotes his new book “Broken News” Wednesday at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Stirewalt will be at WVU this week promoting his book. (Photo Provided)
CHARLESTON — Throughout his career as a national news reporter, producer, and editor, Chris Stirewalt has never forgotten his roots as a cub reporter in the newsroom of The Intelligencer in Wheeling.
Those lessons played a role in shaping Stirewalt’s views on journalism and how people can develop a healthy news diet.
Stirewalt penned those views for his new second book, “Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back.”
Stirewalt is returning to West Virginia for his “Broken News” book tour Wednesday, Sept. 14, with a book signing at the Mountainlair Scholar’s Lounge at West Virginia University from 6-7 p.m. Starting at 7:30 p.m., Stirewalt will sit down with WV MetroNews Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.
Stirewalt is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a weekly columnist and senior editor at The Dispatch, a political editor for Nexstar’s NewsNation, and co-host of Ink Stained Wretchs, a podcast focused on the American news media with Washington Free Beacon Editor-in-Chief Eliana Johnson.
Formerly the political editor for Fox News, Stirewalt was part of the decision desk team that called Arizona for now-President Joe Biden during 2020 election night coverage. That correct call led to Stirewalt’s firing from Fox News in 2021. But long before joining Fox News, Stirewalt got his start in journalism at The Intelligencer in the 1990s.
“I got my first newspaper job when I was 17 years old, the summer before I started college,” Stirewalt wrote in the opening chapter of “Broken News.” “It was at my hometown newspaper, the Intelligencer in Wheeling, West Virginia … from the moment I entered that newsroom nearly 30 years ago, I was a goner.
“The greatest gift that Wheeling Intelligencer gave me was the gift to be paid … for writing,” Stirewalt said in an interview Friday afternoon as he was traveling to promote “Broken News.” “I got to write lots and lots and lots of stories, and I would be writing four or five stories a day. I would be cranking out these stories. I was delighted. I loved it. It was great.
“I didn’t care that it wasn’t a highly remunerative position,” Stirewalt continued. “I cared that I got to do this thing because I found journalism — the news business — so cool because I stumbled into it but found that it was a backstage pass to life.”
It was his experience covering sports and other stories in the Ohio Valley that taught him valuable lessons about news reporting and its relationship to the people who read the news each day. Stirewalt believes that modern journalism, with students coming out journalism schools and sometimes going directly into large media markets, has forgotten its heritage as a blue-collar industry.
“One thing that I’m very picky about is making sure that we understand journalism as a vocation, not a profession,” Stirewalt said. “… When I tell young people who want to get started … go find somebody who will pay you to write. And you do that for a few years, and you will get an education that far surpasses whatever you could get at the best journalism school in the world, because that’s where you figure out here’s the truth.”
Stirewalt went on to work as political editor for the Charleston Daily Mail and West Virginia Media — a company that owned The State Journal and several TV stations, including WTRF — in the 2000s before becoming political editor of the Washington Examiner and heading to Fox News during the last decade.
“When the newspaper business and the news business in general collapsed, that was when the peak revenue year for print advertising in the United States was in 2005,” Stirewalt said. “Right as my career was moving into what I thought was the maturation period, the world got turned upside down and I had to learn how to be on television.”
While he has criticisms for the current state of journalism and media that he says has done more to galvanize, divide, and stoke anger among consumers, Stirewalt also calls on today’s news reporters to be more conscience about how they inform the public and strive for fairness. He also calls for news consumers to be mindful of putting themselves into bubbles, read multiple news sources, and support local news reporting.
“We owe … something to this country. There is no American journalism without Americanism,” Stirewalt said. “I have to think about what I owe, and what I owe to our forebearers — and by the way to posterity — is to not take cheap shots and not conduct myself in a way that I know to be harmful to this country.
“We owe our neighbors to be well informed, to be able consumers of news so that we can make good decisions for the public portion of our life … You cannot have a Republic without an informed electorate,” Stirewalt continued. “If you are eating the nutritional equivalent of junk food for your news and information, then you are letting everybody else down.”
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at email@example.com
HEAR HIM OUT…
Hear the full interview with Stirewalt on episode 15 of the Mountain State Views podcast, available on most major podcast platforms.