New York Times columnist and former Crimson news editor Nicholas D. Kristof ’81 described what he sees as the three major challenges in the field of journalism Tuesday night after accepting the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism at the Harvard Kennedy School’s John F. Kennedy Jr. forum.
The first challenge Kristof addressed was what he called the “evaporating” business model of journalism. He said that news agencies must be more innovative if they want to “dominate the new landscape ahead.”
Kristof said that he believes established journalism institutions that feel as though they are doing important work tend to be overly careful.
“I think we probably do need to be more experimental,” he said.
To keep journalists who are doing important work in the field, Kristof said, “We have to figure out how to make money.”
The second challenge Kristof referenced was what he termed a U.S. retreat from “the rest of the world,” motivated in part by the economic downturn and by a general “weariness with Iraq [and] Afganistan.”
Kristof labeled the “rising distrust for the news media” as journalism’s third major challenge. In a time when news organizations are more polarized and publish inaccuracies twice as many times as in 1995, Kristoff said that a focus on ethics is more important than ever.
Alex S. Jones, Director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, and a New York Times reporter, called the Goldsmith Awards event a “highlight” for American journalism.
Alongside Kristof, the Shorenstein Center awarded Goldsmith book prizes to writers Jonathan M. Ladd and Rebecca MacKinnon.
Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at the Kennedy School, said that the Goldsmith Awards are set apart from other journalistic awards by the “expressed intent that the journalism be aimed at improving how the government works.”
Six finalists were recognized for their success in achieving this goal in investigative reporting. The Chicago Tribune’s Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe, and Michael Hawthorne were recognized for their series, “Playing with Fire,” and won the $25,000 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
-Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can reached at email@example.com. Follow her @zohradyaqhubi.