Collision of Power: Martin Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Posts, speaks at Yale

"I don't think journalism is dying. I think journalism is being reinvented."
Marty Baron, former executive editor of The Washington Post, in the Trumbull College Common Room at Yale University answering panel questions.

Had a wonderful time attending a talk with Martin Baron, former executive editor of the Washington Post at Yale today! (I am currently reading his new book “Collision of Power: Trump, Bezos, and the Washington Post” and will post my book review + takeaways soon.)

Here's a summary of my notes from the talk:

On Conspiracy Theories

30% of people in America believe in conspiracy theories. 10% of the people in this world believe the earth is flat and 9% of them have insurance. Why bother with targeting them, let's focus on the 5-10% of people that are influenceable…

On The Washington Post Slogan

"Democracy dies in darkness", The Washington post slogan… came from a judge that said democracy dies behind closed doors. Trump, of course, thought it was directed at him. Searches for the word "democracy" increased after the slogan was released. One of the executive editors at Politico called it "post-generation goth vibe". Jeff Bezos was delighted with it because it was mocked and noticed.

On Journalism

What can The Washington Post offer democracy and society? A core principle of journalism is that the public is entitled to know what is happening in their society. There is a lot of promise, need and want for investigative journalism- we just need to figure out how to finance it / charge for it.

On Local News

The regional politics strategy in Washington post was changed by Jeff Bezos who didn’t see a market for local news. It costs the same to have a reporter covering local news as it does to have a reporter covering international, and the coverage you get from international news is exponentially greater. And of course, there's a debate around what constitutes as local news vs regional news vs international news.

Politicians on a smaller scale love the lack of coverage no local news offers, because it gives them the freedom to engage in behaviors that are criminally and morally corrupt. No news coverage means total freedom.

On Reading Newspaper on Phones

Data / interactive graphics / videos are incredibly powerful storytelling tools… meet people where they are… on their phones. I can’t tell people where to get their information! We don’t need to push back against the digital epidemic/ if people don’t want to read a physical newspaper, they won’t. If we don’t use the digital trends to drive conversation someone else will. And we are the more qualified ones!

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