This year's Pulitzer Prize committee recognized some of the smallest newspapers in the country with awards. The Storm Lake Times in Iowa and the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia won Pulitzers for their investigative reporting and editorial work.

We talk to the awardees about small town journalism and the value of print reporting. Our guests:

  • Art Cullen, co-owner and editor of the Storm Lake Times
  • Eric Eyre, statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail
  • Justin Murphy, education reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle

We convene a panel of journalists to discuss how things are covered and what is covered at all. Megyn Kelly from NBC News took a lot of criticism when she decided to interview conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. And what about journalists who have interviewed Richard Spencer, the white nationalist?

Our panel discusses who journalists should interview and why. Our guests:  

A conservative writer, Kevin Williamson, recently published a piece for National Review titled "How to Read the Newspaper." It's probably not what you think. Williamson writes that we're in a dangerous time when large swaths of the population reflexively declare any news story they don't like to be "fake news." He puts his fellow conservatives at the top of that list: "It is cheap, it is cowardly, and it is bad citizenship to simply shreik ' fake news!' every time reality forces a hard choice upon us," Williamson writes, adding that mainstream newspapers do not "traffic in fiction."

Do local newspaper writers fear that a growing population rejects their work out of hand? We find out with our guests from the Democrat & Chronicle:

Our guest, Robin Givhan, is the only person to win a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism. Writing for the Washington Post, Givhan took apart then-Vice President Dick Cheney's attire during a ceremony to mark the liberation of Auschwitz. She wrote, "The vice president was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower." And while diners in high-end restaurants routinely wear jeans and t-shirts, Givhan believes that changing norms do not absolve world leaders of solemnly marking occasions with their own fashion choices.

She's coming to Syracuse University this week, but first she joins us to talk about her work, her book, and where we should draw the line when it comes to critiquing what someone else is wearing.

  • Robin Givhan, fashion editor for the Washington Post
  • Eric Grode, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism Program at Syracuse University

In the media world, journalists aim to cover the news, not become news. They work to gain trust and access to key sources and stories, not become barred and banned from voices the public needs to hear from. Restricting media outlets from access to politicians, law enforcement agents, education leaders and others is an ongoing problem for journalists, including those in the Rochester region. On this edition of Need to Know, Rochester journalists and news directors dig into the access issue beyond the headlines as of late.

How much should journalists rely on anonymous sources? Every organization treats this issue with its own standards. There is not a single rule or guideline. Some newsrooms are weighing whether to scrap reporting if no sources will go on the record. Others, like the New York Times, run entire stories based on conversations with anonymous sources -- for example, the recent controversial piece about Trump's selection for Energy Secretary, Rick Perry.

In the age of Trump, there might be more temptation to use anonymous sources, as reporters try to peel back what's going on in Washington. What should the standards be? Our guests:

Did BuzzFeed make a mistake by publishing the entire dossier of unverified links between Donald Trump and Russia? Editor-in-chief Ben Smith says no; he errs on the side of sunlight, and he views BuzzFeed as part of a new kind of media paradigm. But traditional journalists have said it was a reckless decision, a mistake.

Our panel debates the decision, and the future of disseminating information. In studio:

  • Tianna Manon, editor-in-chief of Open Mic Rochester
  • David Riley, former government reporter for the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Jack Rosenberry, journalism professor at St. John Fisher College
  • Jim Memmott, journalist with the Democrat & Chronicle and professor at the University of Rochester

Author Seth Godin points out the following: "The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent. Millions of people read this 690-page political novel. In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books." Godin writes that there has always been broccoli and candy when it comes to culture... but what happens if everything becomes candy?

What happens if all we read is click-bait? Heck, Godin notes that even Bravo and the History Channel have reality dating competitions. He urges us to "vote with our clicks," for starters, and we see if our panel agrees:

  • Erica Bryant, columnist for the Democrat & Chronicle
  • Tom Proietti, resident scholar in media at St. John Fisher College
  • Eric Grode, director of the Goldring Arts Journalism program at Syracuse University and author of The Book of Broadway

So-called "fake news" continues to offer problems. Sometimes it's propaganda. Sometimes it's a hoax. Sometimes it's unsourced, bad information.

Public media has a vital role in helping the public sort through what is real and what is not. We discuss that role, how it's performed, and whether our guests think fake news is here to stay. Our guests:

Open Mic Roc is a locally based, online black publication, with news, interviews, opinion pieces, and a platform for discussion.

Recently, Open Mic has covered the debate over La Marketa in the City of Rochester. On Thursday, the staff sat down for an interview with Mayor Lovely Warren, a sign of growing respect for what Open Mic is doing.

On December 27, the staff published a piece that included a graphic with the words, "You're pretty for a black girl." The story was about microaggressions: what they are, how they impact people, and how to recognize them.

This hour, we explore the work that Open Mic is doing with members of its staff: