Chicago Tribune editor to speak on media transitions
Gerould Kern, senior vice president and editor of the Chicago Tribune and journalism alumnus, will talk about audience receptions and journalistic practices in the digital era of newspapers at 7 p.m. Feb 10 in the Ernie Pyle Hall auditorium.
Kern’s talk, “Does Mission Matter? Journalism on the Digital Front Line,” is the second of the school’s spring Speaker Series. It is free and open to the public.
Kern said in a phone interview that the topic of his talk is relevant not only to students looking to soon enter the newsroom professionally, but to anyone who consumes news.
“Newspapers are transforming into primarily digital news mediums, and with the rise of digital, the pace of information is incredible,” said Kern. “It’s important to take note of how journalistic practices are changing and how audiences are reacting.”
As editor of the Tribune, Kern has developed the paper’s digital platforms, expanded the Tribune’s opinion and commentary content, and established Trib Nation, a series of live events that connect audiences with Tribune journalists. Under Kern’s leadership, the Tribune has been a Pulitzer finalist nine times since 2009 and won the prize for commentary.
Kern, who has filled several leadership roles since he joined the Tribune in 1991, said people are well aware that newspapers are overcoming big challenges in an ever-changing industry. Few people are aware, however, of the creative solutions leaders in the industry are using to overcome these challenges.
“Learning audience responses to digital content actually validates journalism and highlights where changes and improvements can be made,” he said. “I am going to address problems that we are facing in the newsroom right now and offer insights about data driven solutions.”
Regardless of actions newspapers take to cope with the challenges they face, the role that journalism plays in citizen’s lives will always be an essential one, Kern said.
“The business model of journalism may be changing but the needs it serves remains the same,” he said. “People need to know who’s trying to influence them, how to be safe, who to vote for. The need for journalism is greater now than it has been in recent past, and it has a real future as long as it continues to identify and serve those needs.”
Kern, BA’71, said he is excited to return to the school that taught him why journalism is pivotal to a productive society.
“IU is where I learned to be a reporter, what the journalistic mission is and all the good things journalism does,” said Kern. “I’ve carried these lessons with me through my career, so it’s great to be able to come back with a report from the front lines.”
Kern is the school’s Roy W. Howard Lecturer this semester.