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Shorenstein Center Media and Politics Podcast

The Shorenstein Center Media and Politics Podcast features insight and expertise from leading voices at the intersection of media, politics and public policy. Prominent journalists, editors and academics address topics such as the media industry, campaigns and politics, foreign policy, race and gender, and technology.
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Shorenstein Center Media and Politics Podcast
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Mar 12, 2019

Reporting from the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica revealed deep flaws and abuses of power in the criminal justice system in Elkhart, Indiana – from new revelations in the wrongful convictions of two men, to the promotions of police supervisors with serious disciplinary records, to the mishandling of police misconduct cases. The investigation led to the resignation of the police chief, criminal charges against two officers and plans for an independent investigation of the department, demonstrating the strong, immediate impact that investigative journalism can have at the local level – and its ability to force critical changes in communities.

Read this excellent example of collaborative journalism here: https://www.southbendtribune.com/elkhartcoverage/

Heidi Legg talked to reporter Christian Sheckler from the south Bend Tribune, and Ken Armstrong from ProPublica, about the deep searches they did through public records to find evidence of misconduct, and the collaborative experience of reporting this story at the South Bend Tribune - a local newspaper with only 12 reporters.  

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Mar 11, 2019

ProPublica obtained and published a secret recording from inside a border patrol detention center that captured the sounds of children, recently separated from their families at the Mexican border, sobbing and begging for their parents. The audio clip was played on the floors of Congress, sparking widespread condemnation and having an almost immediate impact, with President Trump signing an executive order to end the family separation policy within 48 hours of its publication. ProPublica reporters then dug deeper into conditions at the detention centers, detailing abuse and assaults on immigrant children, directly countering the administration’s claims that the shelters were safe havens.

Read, and listen, to their reporting here: https://www.propublica.org/series/zero-tolerance

In this episode, Heidi Legg talks with reporters Ginger Thompson and Mike Grabell about getting the audio recording, and how their reporting unfolded and uncovered more and more layers from there. 

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Mar 8, 2019

In "Toxic City: Sick Schools" The Philadelphia Inquirer revealed unsafe conditions in Philadelphia’s rundown public schools, with children forced to learn in buildings rife with mold, asbestos and flaking and peeling lead paint. By scouring maintenance logs and conducting scientific testing inside 19 elementary schools, and engaging teachers and parents in their reporting, the Inquirer built a comprehensive database of the shocking conditions putting children at risk on a daily basis.

Read the reporting: http://media.philly.com/storage/special_projects/lead-paint-poison-children-asbestos-mold-schools-philadelphia-toxic-city.html

In this episode of the Shorenstein Center podcast, Heidi Legg talks to reporters Wendy Ruderman, Barbara Laker, and Dylan Purcell, along with Investigations Editor Jim Neff, about how they found and analyzed data, tracked an expanding web of problems, and eventually uncovered the vast number of health hazards across the city's school system. 

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Mar 7, 2019

FRONTLINE from PBS and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism produced an investigative documentary on labor trafficking happening today on U.S. soil. Reporters told the story of unaccompanied minors from Central America who were forced to work against their will at an Ohio egg farm, the criminal network that exploited them, the companies that profited, and how U.S. government policies and practices helped to deliver some of the children directly to their traffickers. The investigation uncovered widespread criminal abuse, and will be used as a Department of Justice Anti-Human Trafficking training tool for thousands of law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

Watch the film: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/trafficked-in-america/

In this episode of the Shorenstein Center podcast, Heidi Legg talks to Daffodil Altan and Adrés Cediel about the shoeleather reporting required to find and get access to people who had been trafficked in the U.S., and the need for cultural competency and language fluency for reporting stories like these.

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Mar 6, 2019

The Dallas Morning News found that thousands of sick and disabled Texans were being denied life-sustaining drugs and treatments by the private health insurance companies hired by the state to manage their care. While these private contractors made billions of dollars from the corporate management of taxpayer-funded Medicaid, some of the most vulnerable Texans were denied critical services, equipment and treatments, often with profoundly life-altering results. As a result of the investigation the Texas legislature pledged millions of dollars to more closely regulate the system, monitor instances of denials of care, and reform the appeals process.

Read the reporting: https://interactives.dallasnews.com/2018/pain-and-profit/index.html

In this episode of the Shorenstein Center podcast, Heidi Legg talks to reporters David McSwane and Andrew Chavez about tracking down the patients and families affected, how they got to the bottom of why some of the most vulnerable patients were being denied the care they needed, and what's next with this story.

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Mar 5, 2019

Amid threats to his family’s personal safety, reporter Connor Sheets revealed extensive wrongdoing by an Alabama sheriff, including improper use of millions of dollars’ worth of public funds and the mistreatment of inmates in the county jail he runs. Sheets uncovered a history of misconduct that resulted in the ‘Beach House Sheriff’ losing his reelection bid, the launch of investigations into his conduct at the federal, state and local level, and proposed legislation to prevent Alabama sheriffs from pocketing public funds for personal enrichment.

Read the reporting: https://www.al.com/news/birmingham/2018/03/inside_etowah_county_jail_nigh.html

Heidi Legg talks to Connor Sheets about what it's like to investigate a local elected official in a small state, how he broke the story based on a tip from a teenage lawnmower, and the changes that happened as a result of his reporting.

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Feb 27, 2019

Starting in 2016, a team from the Wall Street Journal, lead by reporters Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo, uncovered evidence that Donald Trump personally orchestrated a criminal scheme to suppress damaging sexual allegations, despite denials by the president. The coverage sparked a federal criminal investigation into campaign-finance abuses that will soon land the president’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, in prison.

In this episode of the Shorenstein Center podcast, Heidi Legg talks to Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo about how the found the story, the lengths they went to uncover evidence, and the expected and unexpected outcomes of their ongoing reporting.

This episode is part of the Shorenstein Center's special series of interviews with the finalists for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Journalism. The Goldsmith Prize winner will be announced at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on March 12, 2019.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com

Nov 5, 2018

Sarah Smarsh, author of the new book "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth," joined Shorenstein Center director Nicco Mele for a conversation on how the media covers rural America.

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded October 1, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School.

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com. 

Nov 5, 2018

Eugene Scott of The Washington Post joined Shorenstein Center director Nicco Mele for a conversation around identity politics and how they impact various political debates happening now.

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded Tuesday, September 25, 2018. 

Music provided by ExtremeMusic.com. 

Oct 5, 2018

Kristen Soltis Anderson, pollster and co-founder of Echelon Insights, author of The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America (And How Republicans Can Keep Up), and co-host of The Pollsters, a bipartisan weekly podcast, joined Nicco Mele to discuss how millennial voters might impact the midterm elections, cultural attitudes towards the Kavanaugh hearings, and how young people view the Republican Party. 

This Shorenstein Center Media & Politics Podcast was recorded September 24, 2018. 

Oct 3, 2018

Setti Warren, new Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center, and former mayor of Newton, MA, joined Nicco Mele to discuss local government, electoral campaigns, the importance of a robust local media, and more. 

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded September 18, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School.  

Sep 18, 2018

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. He joined Shorenstein Center director Nicco Mele to discuss his new book, "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy".

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded September 11, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Apologies for the poor sound quality of audience questions. 

Apr 17, 2018

Talia Buford, reporter for ProPublica, discussed environmental justice, the complexities of covering the environment, how environmental policy is changing in the Trump administration, and more in a conversation with Shorenstein Center Director Nicco Mele.

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded April 3, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Apr 17, 2018

Adam Serwer, senior editor at The Atlantic, discussed the role of race and class in U.S. politics, and its media coverage, during a visit to the Shorenstein Center. 

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded March 27, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Apr 2, 2018

Heather Ann Thompson, a historian at the University of Michigan and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, discussed the Attica Prison uprising of 1971, its media coverage, and its legacy, in a conversation with Khalil G. Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded March 20, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Mar 4, 2018

Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC from 2013 to 2017 under President Obama, and Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellow, discussed technological change, President Trump’s FCC, regulation of social platforms, and more during a talk at the Shorenstein Center. 

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded February 27, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Mar 4, 2018

This podcast features conversations with journalists from three of the six finalists for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting: the Miami Herald, The Washington Post, and a collaboration between NPR and ProPublica. You can hear the other three finalists on the previous episode of this podcast, and you can find more information and links to each investigate story by visiting goldsmithawards.org

Conversations with: 

The Washington Post
Ellen Nakashima and Tom Hamburger
Russia
The Washington Post examined Russian interference in the 2016 election, possible links between the Trump campaign and Kremlin agents, and the United States’ response throughout 2017. The Post’s reporting contributed to the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

NPR and ProPublica
Nina Martin and Renee Montagne
Lost Mothers
The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world; NPR and ProPublica found at least half could be prevented with better care. This series tracked maternal deaths, saved lives by raising public awareness of complications, and prompted legislation in New Jersey and Texas.

Miami Herald
Carol Marbin Miller, Audra D.S. Burch, Emily Michot, and the Miami Herald digital team
Fight Club: An Investigation into Florida Juvenile Justice
This investigation found widespread beatings and brutality, sexual exploitation, and medical neglect in Florida’s juvenile detention centers. As a result, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice overhauled its hiring practices and created an Office of Youth and Family Advocacy to investigate complaints.

Feb 27, 2018

This podcast features conversations with journalists from three of the six finalists for the 2018 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting: the Asbury Park Press, BuzzFeed News, and a collaboration between STAT and the Boston Globe. We’ll hear from the other three finalists later this week, and you can find more information and links to each investigate story by visiting goldsmithawards.org

Conversations with: 

STAT and The Boston Globe 
David Armstrong and Evan Allen
The Addiction Trade
STAT and The Boston Globe exposed treatment centers, middlemen, and consultants that exploited people seeking addiction treatment, and has led to criminal and congressional probes. Stories ranged from insurance fraud schemes, to poor care at Recovery Centers of America, to patient health put at risk on the TV program Dr. Phil.

BuzzFeed News
Melissa Segura
Broken Justice In Chicago
BuzzFeed News investigated a Chicago detective accused by the community of framing more than 50 people for murder. The findings from the series led to the freeing of an innocent man from prison after 23 years, and authorities reviewed the cases of other prisoners.

Asbury Park Press
Shannon Mullen and Payton Guion
Renter Hell
This investigation exposed the hazardous living conditions of thousands of tenants in New Jersey’s government-supported housing. As a result, the state issued more than 1,800 violations, and two state senators introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at fixing many of the issues brought to light in the series.

Feb 23, 2018

Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post columnist, discussed the role of Christianity in U.S. politics with Richard Parker, Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School.

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded February 20, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Feb 16, 2018

Garrett Graff, journalist, author, and director of the Aspen Institute’s cybersecurity and technology program, discussed Robert Mueller’s investigations, election cybersecurity, and threats to U.S. democracy during a visit to the Shorenstein Center. Graff, who has written about Mueller extensively, also discussed Mueller’s background, career, and his leadership at the FBI.

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded February 13, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Feb 9, 2018

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan discussed the challenge of covering President Trump, public trust in media, social media platforms and news, and more during a visit to the Shorenstein Center

This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded February 6, 2018, at Harvard Kennedy School. Due to the nature of the event venue some of the audience questions are difficult to hear. 

Dec 8, 2017

A conversation with Claes H. de Vreese, Joan Shorenstein Fellow (fall 2017) and Professor and Chair of Political Communication at the University of Amsterdam, about his new research paper on political journalism in a populist age.

The paper, can be read in full at: https://shorensteincenter.org/political-journalism-populist-age/

In the paper, de Vreese provides an overview of the types and causes of populist movements. He offers 10 tips for how journalists can best cover them. Using scholarly research on populist communication around the globe as a starting point, de Vreese provides guidance to help journalists think about issues such as how much coverage a candidate warrants, covering policy over communication style, and the importance of historical and comparative context.

Nov 22, 2017

Edward Morris, Professor of Practice in the Department of Transmedia at Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, discussed how art can complement and further the goals of activism during a visit to the Shorenstein Center. 

Morris works with photography, video, writing, and installation, in collaboration with his wife Susannah Sayler as Sayler/Morris. In 2006 Sayler/Morris co-founded the Canary Project, a collaborative that produces visual media and artworks that deepen public understanding of climate change and other ecological issues.

Examples of the artwork discussed in the talk can be found at www.shorensteincenter.org/edwardmorris. 

Nov 13, 2017

Alexandra Petri, author of The Washington Post’s ComPost blog, brought laughs and her observations about comedy to the Shorenstein Center. This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded November 7, 2017, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

Nov 13, 2017

Marvin Kalb, distinguished journalist, author, and the founding director of the Shorenstein Center, discussed President Vladimir Putin and his relationship with President Donald Trump, Russian involvement in the U.S. election, and more during a visit to the Shorenstein Center. Kalb also shared some of his experiences living and working in Russia following Stalin’s death in his new book, The Year I Was Peter the Great: 1956—Khruschev, Stalin’s Ghost, and a Young American in Russia, in a conversation with Shorenstein Center Director Nicco Mele. This Shorenstein Center Speaker Series event was recorded November 7, 2017, at Harvard Kennedy School. 

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