Peabody Award-winning journalist Madeleine Baran provides lecture on media literacy, investigative process at MTSU

Photo and story by Daniel-Shaw Remeta / Contributing Writer 

A lecture about media literacy was given by Peabody Award-winning investigative journalist Madeleine Baran Wednesday afternoon in the Keathley University Center Theater on campus.  

The lecture, entitled “On the Frontline,” took a look at how investigative journalists go about digging into some of the most controversial issues in a professional and impactful manner. Baran began by talking about the importance of investigative reporting and explaining the structure that an investigative reporter follows.

“A lot of investigative reporting begins with a simple question that you don’t know the answer to, that you think is important, and your whole quest as an investigative reporter is to try to find an answer to that question,” Baran said.

The talk was a part of a Digital Seed Grant from the MTSU James E. Walker Library and was sponsored by MTSU’s Digital History program. It was free and open for anyone on campus to attend.

“I’ve been part of an ongoing campus-wide conversation about what is called ‘fake news’ and how we can help instill in our students an understanding of legitimate news from hoaxes,” said Ken Paulson, the dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, who attended the lecture. “This is an unprecedented time in American history, and it’s important that our students understand how to get good information and how that information will help lead them to decisions about public policy and how to vote.”

Baran showed clips from her podcast, “In the Dark,” an investigative piece that revealed how law enforcement mishandled a notorious child abduction case in rural Minnesota in 1989, to demonstrate the process an investigative reporter has to go through and to disprove one of the common misconceptions about investigative journalism.

“I don’t feel like we’re there to be some kind of prosecutor, judge or someone who is going to seek justice on their own,” Baran said. “Instead, I think reporters are really there to try to understand.”

Baran is a reporter for American Public Media and the host and lead reporter of “In the Dark.” She also exposed a cover-up that lasted decades and involved clergy sexual abuse in the Twin Cities archdiocese in St. Paul, Minnesota, which lead to the resignation of an archbishop. Baran has received numerous national awards for her reporting, including an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award, a Pulitzer Prize of broadcasting and a Peabody Award.

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