Table topics about Newspapers

I was table topics master at my new San Diego based Toastmasters club last night.

The theme of the night was newspapers. The club makes an effort to give meetings a coherent theme. The word of the day, the table topics and the toastmaster’s introductions will all be linked by a topic chosen by the toastmaster. Last night’s theme even linked in with a speech (actually a brainstorming session project). This allowed for smooth transitions throughout the meeting, but meant I didn’t have free-rein to come up with a really difficult topic.

I tried to make sure each question went in a unique direction to really force people to think on their feet. I also called on people rather than asking for a volunteers after the question has been read out. I was told I got hearts racing!

I based most of my questions on quotes found here.

  1. The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440. It had a revelotionary effect around the world, and has been described as one of the greatest inventions of all time. What invention that you think has, or will change the world?
  2. Gore Vidal said “Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half”. Why do so few people read the news?
  3. All I see on the front cover of newspapers and magazines are paparatzi pictures of Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie. Do you think celebrities have a right to privacy?
  4. The New York Times Motto is All the news that’s fit to printIf you were the editor of the New York Times what kind of news would you consider unfit to print?
  5. If you read a newspaper reguarly you use three trees worth of paper a year; 30% of which ends up in landfill. What steps are you taking to be more environmentally friendly?
  6. Steven Colbert said “A newspaper is a blog that leaves ink on your hands”. Do you think newspapers have more credibility that blogs?
  7. Rupert Murdoch said “There is so much media now with the Internet and people, and so easy and so cheap to start a newspaper or start a magazine, there’s just millions of voices and people want to be heard.” If you started your own newspaper or magazine, what would you write about?
  8. A weekday newspaper costs around 75c. Is it worth paying for newspapers when you can get most things on the internet for free?
  9. Thomas Jefferson said “Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in the newspaper”. Do you think Americans are exposed to too much advertising?
  10. George Orwell said “Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper”. Tell us about an event that you thought was incorrectly reported.
  11. Richard Brinsley Sheridan said “[Newspapers are] villanous, licentious, abominable, infernal – Not that I ever read them! No, I make it a rule never to look into a newspaper”. How can we improve the reputatuion of newspapers?
  12. Mark Twain said “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” How much do you trust what journalists say?
  13. In 1948 The Chicago Tribune famously reported the wrong election winner running the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman”. Tell us about a time when you made a mistake.

Everyone who participated did very well. The best table topic ribbon was awarded to the person who talked about improving science reporting (question 7).

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