Author Carl Hiaasen will be part of the panel at the event. Hiaasen’s brother Rob was killed at the attack at the Capital Gazette in 2018.
Author Carl Hiaasen will be part of the panel at the event. Hiaasen’s brother Rob was killed at the attack at the Capital Gazette in 2018.

Great Talk and the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute at Johns Hopkins University will host a virtual event, “Truth & Trust in Journalism: Should Our Local Newspapers be Saved?”, on Tuesday, March 23 at 7 p.m.  

The discussion will feature a panel of experts, including Carl Hiaasen, author and journalist, Dewayne Wickham, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Morgan State University, Wendy Benjaminson, Politics Editor for Bloomberg News, and Brian Stelter, CNN Chief Media Correspondent and host of CNN’s Reliable Sources. 

The event will be held in honor of Rob Hiaasen and other journalists killed and injured in the 2018 attack on the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.

Great Talk was founded in 2016 to provide a forum and venue for distinguished speakers to have conversations that address relevant issues. Claudine Davison, Executive Director of Great Talks, conceptualized the idea.

“I wanted to bring people together who were not from a specific neighborhood or county or city and give them the chance to really know each other and discuss really hot topics,” Davison said. 

“The mission for Great Talks was to bring conversations with a purpose that mean something to everyone, to bring people together, and to be accessible,” she said.

The event comes at a time when the fate of Baltimore local news is in question. Currently, negotiations regarding the ownership of The Baltimore Sun are at an impasse. 

In February, Stewart W. Bainum Jr., a former Democratic state lawmaker and current chairman of Choice Hotels International, entered a tentative agreement for his newly formed nonprofit to buy The Baltimore Sun and two other Tribune Publishing-owned Maryland papers, Capital Gazette and Carroll County Times

Bainum’s acquisition would save the papers from a deal that gives full ownership to New York-based Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known for imposing severe cost-cutting measures in newsrooms. 

A month after the agreement was reached, the deal ran into complications. Bainum and Alden have found themselves in disagreement over details of operating agreements that would be in effect as ownership transitioned. In response, Bainum has taken a step towards organizing a competing bid for all of Tribune Publishing. 

The negotiations reflect a broader question regarding the livelihood of local news in the United States.

In the 15 years leading up to 2020, more than one in five papers in the country closed and the number of journalists working for newspapers was cut in half, according to research by the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the issue, with many newsrooms experiencing furloughs, layoffs, and closures. 

To register for the event, visit