Gaines Lecture brings investigative journalist to WKU

Michael McKay

Lucy Komisar spoke softly into the Mass Media and Technology Hall Auditorium microphone, but her words and images screamed her achievements as an investigative reporter.

Komisar presented in the 8th annual Gaines Lecture Series, which was launched in 2004 in honor of the 150th anniversary of their family-owned newspaper, The Park City Daily News.

Komisar is a freelance journalist whose investigative pieces have been published in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

“Understanding the role of journalism and bringing about social change is what made me decide to be a journalist,” Komisar said.

Komisar recalled her difficulties to get her work to be picked up my large media outlets and talked about her successes working with independent organizations that use the internet like the watchdog group 100Reporters.

“As you can see, this has been aided immensely by the internet which has built a nonprofit model that is challenging traditional players and giving readers alternative sources,” Komisar said.

Komisar said the internet now works together with broadcast and print sources to provide stories they didn’t have.

Students in WKU’s collaborative journalism class worked together to provide coverage of the presentation through the internet and through Twitter, under @WKU_REDtv.

Georgetown senior Laura Haggard said the class is made up of people with different skills. Haggard is a radio broadcast major.

“We’re a class, but we’re not a traditional class,” Haggard said.

Haggard said the coverage was a “test run” for when the group is split in half to cover events in Los Angeles and in Paris.

At the end of the presentation, the class took questions from Twitter to pose to Komisar.

Haggard said she was pleasantly surprised that the audience had thoughtful questions.

“The Twitter questions were better than expected,” she said.

Bart White, Transitional Retiree with the school of Journalism and Broadcasting said in the introduction that the series has hosted acclaimed journalists across different fields.

Last year’s lecture participants were journalists John Seigenthaler and his son, former NBC network news anchor John Seigenthaler Jr.