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March 28, 2007
The Reynolds School of Journalism (RSJ) welcomed alumnae Karole Morgan-Prager as the featured speaker to the 43rd Annual Scripps Dinner and Lecture March 26. The event, sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation, recognizes distinguished professionals in journalism.
"The journalism school provided a solid foundation for my career in newspapers and I'm excited now about how the school is moving forward to equip students with the necessary tools to navigate through an ever-changing media world," Morgan-Prager said.
According to Morgan-Prager, conventional wisdom holds that newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur. Her message to journalism students: Newspapers face the future with big advantages.
As vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the McClatchy Company, Morgan-Prager helped guide the company's 2006 purchase of Knight Ridder, Inc. The $6.5 billion acquisition included 32 newspapers and the diversified re-sale of a dozen for $2.1 billion. The transaction secured the company's position as the third-largest newspaper publisher in the United States.
"There is no question that newspapers face challenges," she said. "It is time to understand those challenges and demands because society and our democracy depend on newspapers successfully figuring out how to remain relevant while demonstrating profitability for shareholders."
For McClatchy that means delivering quality content, in-depth reporting, and news analysis historically associated with printed newspapers. The acquisition helped the company gain a larger Internet presence and pursue new products and services such as video, web 2.0-style community journalism and blogs.
Morgan-Prager cited the RSJ master's program interactive journalism and the environment as one of the best kinds of journalism today. "It gives communities an understanding and common foundation for public discourse," she said.
She announced that the McClatchy Foundation will donate $25,000 to the reporting program, which allows working journalists to complete their graduate degree in 10 months.
Morgan-Prager expressed optimism about the future of newspapers.
"For 400 years, people have used newspapers as a primary means of sharing information that matters. Reliable news information has always been valuable and newspapers have been a trusted provider of that information."
She added that newspapers are holding onto their audience better than television stations, cable channels, radio stations, and other media and websites whose audiences are fragmenting as they chase more competition within their particular industry.
"When you combine McClatchy newspaper readership with the unduplicated reach of our website, the total audience that we serve is growing in every community we were do business," she said.
Morgan-Prager received a bachelor's in journalism and political science in 1984 and was graduated from UCLA law school in 1987. She is a member of the National Advisory Council of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media and a member of the board of the Media Law Center.