Covering American Democracy: It's Not a Game (At Least It Shouldn't Be)
Bernard D. Nossiter ’47 Lecture
“Covering American Democracy: It’s Not a Game (At Least It Shouldn’t Be)”
Bill Barrow, National Politics Reporter, The Associated Press
Alexis Jetter, Lecturer, Dartmouth College
Democracy is not a game with a scoreboard or a red carpet to critique celebrity fashion. Yet in this red vs. blue era of American politics, journalism too often advances shallow, oversimplified narratives – sometimes to the point of error. At best, this is lazy and reductive. At worst, this “SportsCenter” brand of journalism exacerbates cultural divisions that are fraying American institutions, including the fourth estate. There’s a better way, even in a marketplace of ideas dominated by cable news and social media. We must reclaim our ability, our responsibility to think in nuance and complexity. Then our journalism—all of it—must follow suit, so that our readers, listeners, and viewers can better understand themselves and the world around them.
Bill Barrow is a national politics reporter for The Associated Press. Based in Atlanta since 2012 as part of AP’s Washington Bureau, Barrow covered President Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and the Democratic Party during the Trump era. Previously, he covered the 2016 South Carolina presidential and Super Tuesday primaries, along with tracking political trends in a 13-state region that extends from Maryland to Louisiana. Barrow worked previously for newspapers in Louisiana and Alabama. At The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, he covered the rebuilding of south Louisiana’s health care system after Hurricane Katrina. At the Press-Register in Mobile, he reported on the federal trial and conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. In 2003, Barrow shared in a George Polk Award for Southern Exposure Magazine’s series on predatory lending. As a Harvard Nieman Fellow in 2021-22, he studied the intersections of identity, movement, and establishment politics in the United States. Barrow is an Alabama native and Auburn University alumnus. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, Michelle Krupa, an editor at CNN Digital, and their two sons.
Alexis Jetter is a veteran journalist, teacher, and radio commentator with a focus on politics, science, activism, and popular culture. She teaches journalism in the English Department and the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Dartmouth College. A former metropolitan reporter for New York Newsday, Jetter has written for Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Mother Jones, Science Times, Sports Illustrated, The Guardian (UK), Readers Digest, Health, Prevention, More, Ms., Harpers Bazaar, Life, The Village Voice, Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation, among others. She is also a Pulitzer Prize finalist with top national awards for her writings on education, science, and social justice. She attended Brown University and received her BA in History from Evergreen State College in 1981. She received her Masters degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1986.
This was filmed on
Monday, May 9, 2022
Rockefeller Hall, Room 003