By Dave Nugent
Paul Barbagallo, a Rider alumnus who currently works as a reporter for Bloomberg BNA in Washington, D.C., returned to discuss the 2012 presidential election before an audience of students and faculty in Sweigart Hall on Monday.
During the first presidential debate, Gov. Mitt Romney claimed that President Barack Obama has poured $90 billion into green jobs and that half of the businesses that received funding have gone under, Barbagallo said. According to Barbagallo’s talk, the stimulus plan approved 33 loans worth about $16 billion. Of those 33 loans, some of the bankruptcies have included Solyndra, Beacon Power and Abound Solar.
Barbagallo said even though the Internet has been around through several election cycles, social media have really been important in this election, as they have given fact checkers the ability to instantly expose misinformation.
He added that there is too much information today, which causes the news cycle to move so fast that things are not scrutinized the way they may have been in the past.
“You can just say anything,” Barbagallo said. “It just comes at such a volume and it just comes so fast. [About] 20 years ago, if a candidate made a policy assertion and it was wrong, that was a big gaffe. [Today] the press and the public would have responded en mass. The news cycles are so short and an issue is swept right under the rug and we just move on.”
As an undergraduate at Rider, Barbagallo was a radio and TV major. During this time he had an internship with the Princeton Packet. Watching reporters coming back to the newsroom to work on their stories, as he was writing obituaries, caused him to think about a change of major. After consultating with Dr. Barry Janes, professor of communication, and Dr. Shawn Kildea, assistant professor of communication, he made the switch to journalism.
Barbagallo has fond memories of his time at Rider — even waking up for his 8 a.m. Communication Theory course with Dr. Jonathan Millen
“Rider has a special place in my heart,” Barbagallo said. “I met some of my closest friends and most trusted mentors, including Dr. Gutin.”
Dr. Myra Gutin, professor of communication and journalism said Barbagallo was an excellent student who always knew what he wanted to do.
“I remember him as being a very focused student,” said Gutin. “He really knew he wanted to go into journalism. He was serious about it. I remember having the sense that he was going to succeed.”
Barbagallo took the initial step to come back to Rider, Gutin said. She was contacted by Steve Rudenstein, associate director of major gifts who said that Barbagallo was interested in returning to campus to speak about his experiences at Bloomberg. She suggested Barbagallo speak to her class, Making of a President 2012.
After working for several different outlets, including the Trenton Times, The Pennington Post, North American Publishing Company and Wolters Kluwer, Barbagallo took his current position with Bloomberg in Washington, D.C.
Barbagallo said his beat is media technology and telecommunication policy. He covers the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), Congress, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the courts.
Bloomberg in Washington is divided into four units: Bloomberg News, which focuses on Wall Street; Bloomberg Government, which serves the Federal agencies; Bloomberg Law, which focuses on the courts and Bloomberg BNA, Barbagallo said.
“We are the wonks of the Bloomberg world,” he said. “We lift up every stone. We write about the most esoteric developments concerning an election or concerning a federal agency or actions on Capitol Hill.”
The FCC, according to its website, regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
“The FCC is only in the news when Janet Jackson shows us a little bit too much of herself,” Barbagallo said. “The FCC is involved in a lot more. The FCC is charged by Congress with hastening the deployment and adoption of broadband services. They regulate telephone companies, broadcast television, and wireless carriers. They are in charge of managing a lot of our economy.”
Getting back to his insight on the 2012 election as a reporter in Washington, Barbagallo said there are stark contrasts between the two presidential candidates in terms of the role they believe government should have in the economy.
“Much of the debate we have seen in Washington has been around how much the government should intervene in markets,” Barbagallo said. “Our president believes in an active role in the markets. Gov. Romney is focused on lowering taxes, less regulation and balancing the budget.”