Mar 202005
Authors: Chris Tarver

Johnson will speak from 7-8 p.m. at Yates Hall room104. Afterwards, a reception will be held for students to chat individually with Johnson. Admission to the event is free.

Students will have the chance to see the changes in journalism through the eyes of a seasoned New York Times reporter this week.

Famed New York Times reporter Kirk Johnson will be speaking at CSU about media coverage in politics at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The CSU chapter of Society of Professional Journalists is bringing Johnson to campus to talk about balanced news coverage in a polarized America. Johnson's appearance is also a part of the New York Times speaker series. The speaker series is a way for reporters in different areas and on different beats to build relationships with various college campuses.

Johnson is the Denver Bureau Chief of the New York Times. With 24 years experience, he has covered stories such as the Kobe Bryant rape case as well the University of Colorado-Boulder football scandal and the alcohol-related deaths of students at both CU and CSU.

Johnson said journalists should find a common ground when covering politics. Even though people are on far opposing ends of the political spectrum, Johnson believes achieving balanced news coverage is still possible.

"I think it's harder than it used to be," Johnson said. "It takes more effort, thought and diligence."

Because technology makes it easier than ever for someone to support his or her own beliefs, it is harder for mediums seeking balanced news coverage to achieve that coverage.

"There are so many narrow cast channels, that it's difficult to reach real mass audiences," Johnson said.

The media's influence on presidential elections has been well documented in the past. However, Johnson is not sure if the media affected, reflected or amplified the 2004 election. Johnson also said journalists need to pursue a greater role of ideological news programming.

Johnson also said maintaining balanced media coverage is definitely an attainable goal, but that journalists must take the lead in ensuring that it happens.


CSU's SPJ chapter is a student organization that serves as a networking system between journalism students and professional journalists. CSU has one of the most active SPJ chapters in the country and also have a number of other events scheduled such as Coffee with a Columnist: with Denver Post columnist Jim Spencer and moderating the Associated Students of CSU debates.

CSU's SPJ chapter has been trying to bring Johnson to CSU since December, said Patrick Plaisance, faculty advisor for the chapter. Because the organization is expecting a fairly large audience and the prestige of Johnson, the group decided to host the event in the new Yates Auditorium.

"This is an enormously valuable opportunity to hear a world class journalist speak," Plaisance said.

Johnson's speech should provide students with some perspective, especially for those who are not journalism majors, wrote Amy Bergstrom, president of CSU's chapter of SPJ, in an e-mail interview. For journalism majors, the speech should provide material to learn more about the field.

"I think having a New York Times reporter come to speak at our school is huge and really exciting," Bergstrom wrote. "The New York Times is one of the most respected newspapers, so in the journalism world, having a reporter from the Times is like having a celebrity on campus."

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