Awards & Events

Coleman Touts Importance of National and Local Journalism

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When asked how it is going to feel if the current political climate gets less crazy, Korva Coleman had a one-word answer: “Boring!”

Speaking in the smooth and unruffled style that she demonstrates every morning on the air, the NPR newscaster addressed a couple hundred people at St. John’s Episcopal Church Thursday evening. Her appearance was part of the 50th anniversary celebration of local NPR affiliate WYSU-88.5 FM.

Before she got started, Coleman offered her condolences on the passing of longtime WYSU morning host Barbara Krauss, who died last year.

Having a local NPR station is “a treasure,” said Coleman, urging listeners to continue to turn to WYSU for information that will help them make the best decisions for Ohio.

“See what you helped create over the last 50 years?” she said.

In her address, she shared anecdotes about her work at NPR, and afterward answered questions from the audience that had been submitted in advance. The longtime newswoman said that politics really hasn’t changed much.

“I think we just know more now,” she said. “You political junkies are loving it.”

The news cycle never slows down and will continue unabated even after the 2020 election, she added.

“The day after the election, we’ll tell you who won but we’ll also talk about the next midterms,” she said.

Coleman said her role is to sort out and unpack the daily and sometimes absurd information coming from Washington. “My job is to say ‘here is what you should know, and if you want to change it, take action by voting.’ ”

Coleman gave a little insight into the news decision-making process – specifically the day it was decided that NPR would read verbatim President Trump’s vulgar description of impoverished third world countries.

Coleman was tasked with reading the quote about “s***-hole countries,” and was later amused by an Elle magazine columnist’s response to it: “I heard the S-word on NPR today, so you know it is the end of days.”

Coleman’s comments touched on the Mahoning Valley on other points. Asked what worries her most about the changes in journalism, she replied “the death of local journalism.”

Citing the demise of The Vindicator this summer after 150 years of publishing, as well as other newspapers, she said, “It troubles me that local media doesn’t get the attention it deserves.”

Coleman also critiqued her own outlet. When asked what biases NPR has, she said it is “bicoastal … We need to listen more to the people who live in the middle, the places not heard from.”

Asked about her stance on the use of anonymous sources by journalists, Coleman said it is necessary, but is used as a last resort and only if the statement can be independently corroborated.

“Sometimes the need to know is so vital,” she said, and naming the source would put him at risk.

NPR, she noted, has not and will not reveal the name of the whistleblower who prompted the current presidential impeachment inquiry.

As a newscaster for NPR, Coleman writes, produces and delivers national newscasts airing during NPR’s news magazine shows “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition” and “Weekend Edition.”

Before joining NPR in 1990, Coleman was a staff reporter and copy editor for the Washington Afro-American newspaper.

Early in her career, Coleman worked in commercial radio as news and public affairs directors at stations in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz. She has earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and studied law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Pictured: Korva Coleman speaks to about 200 people at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Youngstown.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.