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'On Point' host Meghna Chakrabarti to visit for talk on the importance of journalism

Meghna Chakrabarti headshot
Meghna Chakrabarti, host of WBUR and NPR's "On Point" radio show and podcast, will speak at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on May 9.

The host of WBUR and NPR's radio news show and podcast will give a talk on May 9 at Hoyt Sherman Place.

Meghna Chakrabarti knows firsthand the importance of local journalism.

As a reporter in Boston, she saw how people could become more informed about their communities from the local news.

"You can see the impact immediately on stories because they unfold right in front of you," she said on IPR's Talk of Iowa.

Chakrabarti is the current host of WBUR and NPR's award-winning radio news show and podcast On Point. She took over in 2018 and in the five years since, the show has been transformed to better suit an audience living in the age of social media and instant information.

Chakrabarti will visit Iowa for a talk at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on May 9. There, she'll discuss how strong local journalism is critical to a functioning democracy.

On Point underwent a relaunch in 2020. With an abundance of new media and ways to access information quickly, the radio show needed to find a way to keep up.

"We felt that the world of radio journalism — media in general — has changed so much from when this show was first launched back in late 2001," she said. "The world of podcasts is continuing to expand, we've got all the cable news channels. We've got social media. So we wanted to come up with a different way to serve listeners that went beyond the talk show format."

Now the show is an hour long, with in-depth reporting and analysis on national topics.

"We wanted to do something that went deeper," Chakrabarti said. "We wanted to step away from the day's news and take on big topics that are touching all of our lives and go as deep on them as possible from as many different angles as possible that don't get covered in the news."

On Point tackles primarily national issues, but during her talk, Chakrabarti plans to emphasize the importance of local journalism, too.

"Everything seems to have been made national, but when it comes to what's actually happening in people's communities, in their schools, at their local statehouses, in their local senior center, there's no possible way that national media can know that in a meaningful way," she said. "In order for citizens of a state or a local community to know best what's happening in their local community, there's only one place for that and that's local journalism."

She said it's worrying that local journalism is a shrinking industry.

"I definitely believe that strengthening local journalism is great for communities and its great for our democracy and there's nothing that can fill that gap," she said.

Meghna Chakrabarti will be in conversation with IPR's Charity Nebbe live at Hoyt Sherman Place on May 9. Purchase tickets here.

Josie Fischels is IPR's Arts & Culture Reporter, with expertise in performance art, visual art and Iowa Life. She's covered local and statewide arts, news and lifestyle features for The Daily Iowan, The Denver Post, NPR and currently for IPR. Fischels is a University of Iowa graduate.
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk