"The power of local journalism is what I'm most concerned about, and have been most inspired about tonight," said Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," who was honored as an SPJ Fellow, the society's highest honor.
|Mary Ellen Klas|
Klas, a Harvard University Nieman fellow this year, said she is researching how the decline in local reporting leads to increases in corruption. She said Florida has seen "a general and persistent erosion" of government ethics, but the number of complaints to state ethics agencies "have declined dramatically" and officials there blame a reduction in journalism. LaCorte said the full-time state-capital press corps in Olympia, Wash., is down to five from 20.
Todd, who grew up in Miami, said SPJ leads all other journalism organizations in advocating transparency, not just of government, but of the news media. "We're all in this together, as journalists," he said. "We hold each other's credibility in our hands. I'm aware of it at NBC all the time. We make a mistake, and it reverberates across the entire journalism landscape, and vice versa -- especially in these times, when we have people who have weaponized the First Amendment, right? Started organizations that claim to be journalistic organizations but really are designed to undermine us. Undermine democracy, undermine many things. . . . We've never had more pressure on us to get it right."