Even when problems seem out of control, people have a responsibility to gather information and learn how to make things better, journalist Gwen Ifill says.
"We can't just sit by and watch the world go by and say, 'Oh, that's just too bad,'" said Ifill, senior correspondent for PBS' "NewsHour." "That's what I like about public broadcasting; it demands that we all get involved."
The 55-year-old political journalist and author spoke to about 500 people Wednesday at WTCI-TV's 2011 Be More Awards, held in the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Ifill helped WTCI present six awards to nonprofit organizations for their work in the community.
"This is my favorite thing. I feel like it's the Oscars," Ifill said while opening an envelope to name an award recipient.
Volunteers in Medicine, which provides medical services to financially eligible people in Hamilton County, won the Be More Impactful Local Service Award.
Signal Centers' Assistive Technology Center, which uses technology to help people with disabilities, won the Be More Creative Innovation Award. And The Association of Visual Arts won the Be More Enriched Educational Outreach Award.
"WTCI is trying to recognize the wonderful nonprofit community we have," said WTCI President and CEO Paul Grove.
Nonprofits meet incredible goals and many do so without a lot of money, Grove said.
Whether people want to change their neighborhoods or change the world, an investment is required, Ifill said.
"We can despair and sit on the sidelines or we can celebrate the time we live in." she said.
Her book "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama" focused on politicians who thought going along to get along was not a good formula, Ifill said.
These leaders figured out that someone would always tell them that they could not be successful, but they also knew it was no one else's fault if they failed to reach their objectives, she said.
"They know that it is our responsibility to make [goals] happen," Ifill said.