Peter Bhatia

On the new “What Works” podcast, Ellen Clegg and I talk with Peter Bhatia. Bhatia is a Pulitzer Prize-winning editor who is now chief executive officer of the Houston Landing, a nonprofit, non-partisan, no-paywall local news site that launched in spring of 2023. He has also been editor and vice president at the Detroit Free Press, from 2017-2023, and served as a regional editor for Gannett, supervising newsrooms in Michigan and Ohio.

His résumé includes helping lead newsrooms that won 10 Pulitzer Prizes. He is the first journalist of South Asian heritage to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S. He has also been involved in some recent controversies, and, as you’ll hear, he doesn’t shy away from talking about them.

In Quick Takes, I talk about an important press-freedom case in Mississippi. The former governor, Phil Bryant, is suing Mississippi Today over its Pulitzer Prize-winning series on a state welfare scandal that got national attention and even managed to touch former NFL quarterback Brett Favre. Bryant says he needs access to Today’s internal documents in order to prove his libel case, and a state judge has agreed. Mississippi Today has decided to take the case to the state Supreme Court. It’s a risk, because it will set a precedent in the Magnolia State — for better or worse.

Ellen highlights an interview with Alicia Bell, the director of the Racial Equity in Journalism Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. Bell talked to Editor & Publisher about her upcoming report on what it will take to build a thriving local news ecosystem for BIPOC communities across the country. Her estimate: it will take somewhere between $380 million to $7.1 billion annually to truly fund BIPOC journalism across the U.S. That’s a big number, but Borealis is a pioneer in this space, and it’s important research as national efforts like Press Forward roll out.

You can listen to our conversation here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

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