What can Plato’s cave dwellers tell us about journalism? More than you’d think, says Bill Grueskin. Speaking to the incoming class of students at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism on September 2, Grueskin compared current journalists to Plato’s allegorical prisoners, who see fleeting shadows without, necessarily, seeing the fuller picture:

Many journalists are sort of like those prisoners right there. And I think all of us are a little bit like that. We sort of see little glints of what’s happening. We see online growth, we see problems in the print industry, we see all these layoffs and you can kind of come up with conclusions that fit the data. But the truth is, nobody fully understands where this is going.

Grueskin should know. As deputy managing editor for news at The Wall Street Journal, he oversaw the development of the Journal’s Web site, wsj.com. Now the newly appointed Academic Dean at the Journalism School, Grueskin spoke to students about the importance of adopting a new media mindset while preserving the journalistic standards that have withstood the test of time. “You have a responsibility, now, to our industry,” Grueskin said. “Democracy works badly when the press is not healthy and vigorous. Create models that will make it vibrant and healthy for a long time.”

Watch the video of Grueskin’s talk below.

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For a full-screen version of the high-resolution video, click here.