Walter “Robby” Robinson Meets with Public Voices Fellows

November 22, 2016

Walter “Robby” Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-Winner and Editor-at-Large for the Boston Globe, joined Yale Public Voices Fellows for a discussion on the relationship between journalism and academic scholarship. Robinson led the Spotlight Team’s investigation that uncovered the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. Robinson offered practical advice about how academics can best interact with journalists and communicate their ideas. For those interested in writing op-ed pieces, he emphasized the importance of capturing the reader’s attention in the first paragraph, writing accessibly, and anticipating the concerns of the public. Robinson also encouraged academics to seek media training. When asked by journalists to offer their expert opinions, Robinson suggested that academics view and respond to questions over email so as to reduce opportunities for misinterpretation and misrepresentation. He also shared insight into the financial challenges faced by newspapers today, and explained that now more than ever watchdog journalism that holds institutions accountable is the most important kind of journalism. Such work requires in depth research and expertise and is ripe for collaboration with scholars who are unrestricted by the pressing demands of the 24-hour news cycle.