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Former Editor of Time to Join HKS Faculty

The Harvard Kennedy School, pictured in 2017.
The Harvard Kennedy School, pictured in 2017. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Alexandra A. Chaidez, Crimson Staff Writer

Former Time Magazine Editor-in-Chief Nancy R. Gibbs will join the Harvard Kennedy School faculty beginning this March as a visiting professor and a faculty affiliate at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy.

Gibbs will serve as the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Press, Politics, and Public Policy. At the Kennedy School, she will teach courses based on her experience in media, participate in research, and engage with the fellows program at the Shorenstein Center, according to a Thursday press release.

Gibbs said in an interview Thursday that her positive encounters with the Kennedy School and the Shorenstein Center in the past motivated her decision to come teach there.

“I really was pleased at the idea of being able to join them, particularly right now when I think the challenges facing the media generally—and for that matter a lot of democratic institutions—are very significant,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs was the first woman to hold the position of managing editor at Time. She was also one of the most published writers in the history of the magazine with experience reporting on four presidential campaigns and writing more cover stories than any other writer on the magazine’s staff.

“Nancy Gibbs is an extremely thoughtful and respected voice on issues of politics, values, and society,” Dean of the Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf said in the press release. “Her extensive knowledge and insights will help illuminate research and discussions at the school about the role of journalism in democracies and in the digital age.”

Gibbs said she was interested in working with projects that the Shorenstein Center launched around misinformation and disinformation, a topic she said was “exactly the right focus” for research.

She also said scholarship on “fake news” is a crucial issue for sustaining a functioning democracy.

“We are still learning more every day about the role that fake news, as broadly defined, has been playing not just in our most recent elections but in the way even an extraordinary news story like the Parkland shooting gets covered and understood,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs sees tackling current debates on news media as more than just a political trope—but as a critical societal task.

“I think it’s very hard to have a functioning democracy, if we aren’t able to really weigh solutions to problems and address them fairly and rigorously, if we can’t even agree on the facts of the case,” Gibbs added.

Gibbs said the “increasing attacks” on journalism are notable at a time when the field is performing at a “higher level” than ever before.

“This concerns me not only as someone who cares about the health of journalism but the health of democracy as well,” Gibbs said.

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