By Abigail Cloutier
The celebration of WYSU’s 50th anniversary continued Nov. 7 at St. John’s Episcopal Church with a nationally recognized newscaster making a trip to Youngstown.
Korva Coleman, writer, producer and newscaster at NPR, gathered with over 150 people in honor of WYSU’s 50th anniversary to discuss accuracy, politics and journalism throughout her career.
“I wanted to be a journalist because I knew I could make a difference,” Coleman said.
Known for delivering national news reports during NPR newsmagazine programs “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered,” Coleman has worked for NPR since 1990.
She spoke not only about her journalistic ethics and beliefs while working at NPR but also about her role as a journalist in the current cultural and political climate.
“It’s my job to tell you what’s going on but yours to decide if you like how you’re being led,” Coleman said. “If you want to change what you’re seeing, you can take action by voting.”
She also discussed Youngstown’s current events, offering her condolences for WYSU host Barbara Krauss’s death and speaking about her concerns on The Vindicator’s closing.
“It troubles me that local media doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” Coleman said.
In the question-and-answer portion of Coleman’s talk, she acknowledged an inherent bias of national news coverage.
“[NPR] can be bicoastal,” Coleman said.
She explained that NPR could do a better job of listening to people in the middle of the country, consulting them not only for regional-specific concerns like the steel industry but also for national issues.
“It’s always good to leave headquarters in Washington and visit NPR member stations. It gives me a chance to understand what’s important and what they prioritize. I need to hear for myself what other people are saying in other parts of the country,” Coleman said. “What I may think is going on in a region may not be true at all.”
Gary Sexton, director of WYSU, said he began the process of bringing Coleman to the Youngstown area nearly a year ago.
“I’ve always admired the way she does what she does — she just has a real presence,” Sexton said. “I’ve already appreciated her work.”
Coleman said she maintains a group of friends outside of work that she relies on for emotional support.
“It’s important to me to know that other people can hear things that they otherwise might not have heard but for the work that I’ve done,” Coleman said. “That’s what made me want to be a journalist.”
Coleman said she is optimistic about the future.
“I think the future of journalism is bright. More people are doing journalism today than ever before, which gives me hope,” Coleman said. “It’s not your job to tell people what they want to hear. It’s your job to tell people what happened.”
Ben Morgan, a senior at Bio-Med Science Academy, said it’s encouraging to know media talent is diverse in terms of demographic reach.
“I feel really heartened to know that people in her position, high-ranking journalists, value the opinions of youth and are looking for more diversity,” Morgan said.
Additionally, Coleman held a student session in Bliss Hall on Thursday, discussing the current state of journalism as well as dealing with trauma and stress as a journalist.