Local Journalism’s Role in a Democracy

April 2, 2019

Policy Breakfast: Local Journalism as a Vital Democratic Force, March 21, 2019

The French-American Foundation hosted a policy breakfast on local journalism’s role in a democracy with guest speaker Mara Gay, journalist and member of the Editorial Board at the New York Times. Moderating the event was Vice Chairman of the French-American Foundation Edward C. Wallace, Co-Chairman of global law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP’s  New York office.

The closed-door event examined the history, current practices, and concerns of the New York Times’ beat on New York state and local affairs. A running theme throughout the conversation was how journalistic coverage of local issues is an essential element of our political life. Mara Gay discussed candidate and issue endorsements, as well as critical coverage of candidates; the newspaper’s influence in New York and elsewhere in the US; central issues for the 2020 elections, including income inequality, housing and mass transit; and the lessons learned since she took on her position on the Editorial Board, which include the necessity of good government.

The breakfast ended with questions from the audience on future competition in Democratic congressional districts, diversity within the New York Times and in its coverage, how to deal with the current atmosphere surrounding journalism, the role of social media, and local journalism and newspapers. Mara Gay concluded her responses by describing the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, as a prime example of when you do not have embedded local journalism covering day-to-day city events. Guests and the speaker continued to discuss the subjects of the breakfast after the event finished.

The French-American Foundation organizes programs throughout the year to encourage dialogue surrounding topical issues in French and US politics. For more information on our upcoming events, please consult our events page here.

Learn more about the Policy Breakfast series