Local News

Pulitzer prize winner calls for greater attention to race, state government stories

Posted October 8, 2015 5:28 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2015 5:36 p.m. EDT

Declining news staffs have imperiled coverage of important issues, including the evolution of state government and racial divisions in society, Pulitzer-winning journalist Gene Roberts told a group of reporters, editors, publishers, and academics at Thursday.

​"Fewer and fewer reporters are covering the news. And God alone knows what we're missing," Roberts said during a presentation at UNC-Chapel Hill's journalism school.

Roberts kicked off the presentation by recalling his time covering stories of racial disparity and the Vietnam war, and then launched into an analysis of declining newsrooms. The lack of reporters dedicated to covering both institutions, like state government as well as ongoing stories, like racial tension, leads to an under-informed public and newsroom ill prepared to react to big stories like riots sparked by police shootings.

"We have trouble comprehending just how detached some parts of ghettoes are from mainstream society," Roberts said.

His remarks served as a jumping off point for a discussion of how to focus more attention on, and pay for, the coverage of important issues.