NAPLES — Print journalism will survive, veteran journalist Peter Copeland assured a Naples audience Friday.
Though he said audiences are "fragmented" and a working business model is still missing, he remains optimistic.
"I have great confidence it will sort itself out," Copeland said.
About 350 people gathered at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club over a Cuban-inspired lunch for the latest speaker event hosted by the Forum Club of Southwest Florida to listen to Copeland share his insight about domestic and foreign policy as well as the future of the media industry.
Students from Barron Collier and Immokalee high schools were also in attendance.
Mikayla Holder, a Barron Collier senior who is co-editor-in-chief of her school's yearbook, said she gets her news from many sources, including Twitter and Facebook. Holder said she thinks that print newspapers will remain a part of the media ecosystem.
"If you have it on your computer and on your phone, it's not as good as reading a newspaper and being able to hold it," she said.
Copeland retired — a word he said he has some trouble saying — at the end of last year from his role as general manager and editor of Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., to start his own media consulting company.
During the course of his 33-year career, he covered wars, spoke with presidents and learned the intricacies of Beltway politics.
Copeland said most of the conversation in Washington about the economy now revolves around what the government should or shouldn't do regarding spending and taxes.
But Copeland said that growing the economy instead will go a long way to "getting the government back in line." And for its part, the government needs to be more "predictable," he said.
"Lurching from crisis to crisis is the worst thing the government can do to us," Copeland said.
Copeland also criticized President Barack Obama's "lead from behind" foreign policy approach and questioned whether America's standing overseas has actually improved.
Though Obama has kept his promise to end the war in Iraq and is starting to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the fighting has spread to other countries, Copeland said.
"His weapon of choice is the predator drone," Copeland said.
As for the Republican Party, Copeland said it has marginalized itself and lacks a clear leader.
"The Republicans have failed to articulate a message that includes everyone," he said.
After his speech, Copeland stuck around to talk to event attendees that included his mother, Julie Morley, and some of his media industry colleagues, such as Alan Horton, former senior vice president of E.W. Scripps.
Ever the stalwart newsman, Copeland remained confident that investigative journalism will survive.
"The real value is the person who can uncover or expose something that someone is trying to cover up," Copeland said.