Virtual Event: Margaret Sullivan + Dan Rather, Moderated by Kyle Pope | Columbia Journalism Review
Monday, July 13, 2020
4:00pm — 5:00pm
“An excellent introduction to the essential problem of our republic. With a wake-up call like this one, we still have a chance.”
—Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny
More than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. have shuttered in recent years, and others are a shadow of their former selves. Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at The Washington Post and one of the most respected figures in journalism, used to be the top editor at one of those, the Buffalo News, where she began as a summer intern and rose to become the paper’s first female editor. She has watched the disappearance of thousands of editorial jobs, and with it the lack of coverage of city halls, statehouses, school boards and other essential institutions. It is just our luck that the vanishing of accountability journalism is reaching a breaking point during the COVID-19 pandemic, just when citizens need local news more than ever.
Sullivan is sounding the alarm with Ghosting The News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy, her urgent, deeply researched look at the underlying causes of the crisis and what might be done before it’s too late. Her goal: to shake Americans’ complacency about the state of local news and help them understand the severity of the problem.
“When local news fails, the foundations of democracy weaken,” she writes. “The public, which depends on accurate, factual information in order to make good decisions—suffer. The consequences may not always be obvious, but they are insidious.” In communities with no local newspapers, citizens are less politically engaged, retreating into tribal corners and voting along party lines. Residents of news deserts are unable to hold their public officials accountable, keep municipal borrowing costs low, or save local taxpayers money. She observes that this problem is not unique to America, but is a worldwide crisis in the making.
For Sullivan, who spent most of her career in local news, Ghosting the News is personal. It not only describes a large, global problem and its effects, but it talks about the human cost and the emotions of losing a loved and valued profession. There is no one better suited to tell this story and to galvanize Americans to action.
Join us on Monday, July 13. Time is still TBD. A link will be posted here on the day of the event.
Margaret Sullivan is the media columnist of the Washington Post, the former public editor of The New York Times, and the former editor of the Buffalo News, where she started her career as a summer intern. She was twice elected a director of the National Society of News Editors and is a former member of the Pulitzer Prize board.
Dan Rather is an American journalist and former national evening news anchor at CBS News. Rather began his career in Texas, becoming a national name after his reporting saved thousands of lives during Hurricane Carla in September 1961. He is currently the host of 'The Big Interview with Dan Rather' on AXS TV.
Kyle Pope is the editor in chief and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review. He previously has worked as an editor at Condé Nast, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Observer, and in 2017 testified before Congress about threats to the press.
“An excellent introduction to the essential problem of our republic. With a wake-up call like this one, we still have a chance.” —Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny More than 2,000 newspapers in the U.S. have shuttered in recent years, and others are a shadow of their former selves. Margaret Sullivan, media columnist at The… more