NPR’s Laura Sydell was the keynote speaker at Hobart and William Smith’s annual Convocation yesterday. The event marks the official beginning of the academic year. The keynote speaker’s remarks are generally directed to incoming first-year students. Sydell reflected on changes in the media landscape.
“When I was growing up, pretty much all newcasters and anchors were men. While men probably still have some of the highest profile jobs there has been change and I have been very fortunate to work at a network where women have been able to take leading roles.”
Sydell is a digital culture correspondent for NPR. Her reporting on the impact of technology on society has included conversations with leading innovators including a recent interview with internet pioneer Vint Cerf.
“I took the opportunity to ask Mr. Cerf if he knew his innovation would change the world. He said yes. He said he did. He imagined it was going to allow for all kinds of communications and sharing of thoughts and ideas. And then I asked him, did you ever imagine harassment, cyber crime, or that terrorists would be using the internet as a recruiting tool and he said, and I quote, ‘Yeah, well, to be honest, no.’ This interview will appear in an upcoming story on NPR that’s part of a series that looks sometimes into the darker side of what happens when great new technologies meet human nature.”
Sydell is a 1983 graduate of William Smith Colleges. She never worked at the campus radio station during her time at HWS. Sydell was very active in theatre. She encouraged the students to take full advantage of a liberal arts education and explore subjects beyond their majors.