NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt issued a dire warning to aspiring journalists Wednesday during a talk at Tufts University, saying that “truth is on the ropes.”

The journalist spoke at the Fletcher School’s 12th annual Edward R. Murrow Forum on Issues in Journalism.

Holt sat with Jonathan M. Tisch, one of the university’s trustees, to discuss issues ranging from diversity in the newsroom to coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

In his two-hour talk, Holt advised Tufts students to develop multiple skills and to strive to “be the Swiss army knife of the newsroom.” He also implored them to “be good to people.”


Holt was the latest journalistic luminary to discuss contemporary issues facing the media at the forum named for the late CBS broadcaster. Past speakers have included former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Holt touched on the perception of the media as an aloof, liberal institution that ignores portions of the country, a feeling expressed during the 2016 campaign and since President Trump’s victory.

Journalists must be “compassionate and respectful not only of our audience but of the people we cover,” Holt said.

Diversity is essential to a newsroom, he said, because “it is important to have different voices.”

Holt warned about the future of journalism in an increasingly partisan and divided political climate.

But he also stressed that “a free and independent press is one of the pillars of our democracy” and that journalism is “really about people and the incredible things we do.”

Holt urged the future journalists to “go with your instincts and ask the unanswered questions.”

Andrew Grant can be reached at andrew.grant@globe.com.