Journalist Peter Copeland is joined by fellow writer Jessica Hopper for a conversation on Mr. Copeland's new book, Finding the News, Mr. Copeland’s fast-paced story of becoming a distinguished journalist. Starting in Chicago as a night police reporter, Copeland went on to work as a war correspondent in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa before covering national politics in Washington, DC, where he rose to be bureau chief of the E. W. Scripps Company. The lessons he learned about accuracy and fairness during his long career are especially relevant today, given widespread concerns about the performance of the media, potential bias, and the proliferation of so-called “fake news.” He offers an honest and revealing narrative, told with surprising humor, about how he learned the craft of news reporting. This event is free and open to the public. We ask that you buy your copy of Finding the News from The Book Stall if you enter the book-signing queue.
Copeland’s story begins in 1980, when a colleague hastily declared him a full-fledged reporter after barely four days of training. He went on to learn the business the old-fashioned way: by chasing the news in thirty countries and across five continents. As a young person entering journalism and reporting during some of recent history’s most fraught military situations—including Operation Desert Storm and the U.S. invasions of Panama and Somalia—Copeland discovered the craft was his calling. Looking back on his career, Copeland asserts his most important lessons were not about reporting, writing, or the latest technologies, but about the core values that underlie quality journalism: accuracy, fairness, and speed. Replete with behind-the-scenes stories about learning the trade, Copeland’s inspiring account builds into a heartfelt defense of journalism “done the right way” and serves as a call to action for today’s reporters. The values he learned as a cub reporter are needed now more than ever, he argues, as the integrity and motives of even seasoned journalists are called into question by political partisans.
Copeland admits that those critics are not entirely wrong but contends that exciting new technologies, combined with a return to old-school news values, could usher in a golden age of journalism.
Peter Copeland has been a journalist and author for nearly forty years. He is the former editor and general manager of Scripps Howard News Service and is the coauthor of four books, including Living with Our Genes and The Science of Desire.
Chicago writer and music journalist Jessica Hopper is the author of the acclaimed memoir Night Moves and The First Collection of Criticism By A Living Female Rock Critic. She was formerly the Editorial Director at MTV News, and an editor at Pitchfork and Rookie.
“Peter Copeland knows where the bodies are buried. Not just the literal bodies, and the entertaining tales they produce of cops and robbers, but the figurative ones as well. He’s a journalist who got it early and got it right. As the newspaper industry fought for its future, he knew that a blend of enduring values and new tech could light a way forward. His voice matters now and to the next generation of news.” —Ken Doctor, media analyst for Newsonomics
“Gorgeous prose, great details, lovely storytelling voice.” —Barton Gellman, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post
Finding the News tells Peter Copeland's fast-paced story of becoming a distinguished journalist. Starting in Chicago as a night police reporter, Copeland went on to work as a war correspondent in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa before covering national politics in Washington, DC, where he rose to be bureau chief of the E. W. Scripps Company.