WIUM Tristates Public Radio

A Conversation with a Pulitzer Prize Winner

Apr 18, 2017

For this week's program, News Director Rich Egger spoke with Alex Rodriguez, who's a member of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.  Rodriguez has also worked as a foreign correspondent for the Tribune and he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for the newspaper.

The prize-winning reporting was about air flight delays and the impact of those delays on the economy.

“One of our top editors had some really horrible experience with a delay at an airport. And she thought it was not just nettlesome, but that these delays have a ripple effect on commerce and the economy,” Rodriguez said.

“So she thought this was a potential story line with a lot at stake.”

Rodriguez graduated from Western Illinois University and he wrote for the student newspaper, the Western Courier.  He was back in Macomb to speak with students in WIU's Department of Broadcasting & Journalism.

Rodriguez and Egger talked about the proliferation of fake news.  Rodriguez called it an important issue but he does not consider it the biggest threat to journalism.

“I see parts of America where the local newspapers are really struggling. They have not made that transition to digital work.  Their pages are getting thinner and thinner. The advertising is just not there.  And there are communities that are in danger of losing their local paper,” Rodriguez said.

“So from the standpoint of community journalism and understanding what’s happening in your own town … to not have that local journalism entity there to tell you what’s going on – that’s a loss.”

Rodriguez said positive developments in journalism include the rise of online sites such as ProPublica and Politico, which are committed to doing investigative work.