From her Camden home, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker can monitor the goings-on around the world by flipping through the TV news channels and keeping an eye glued to her Post, which she reads daily along with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Parker is one of the most widely-syndicated columnists in America, read in more than 400 media outlets twice a week. Like her colleagues, she started as a newspaper reporter – in her case, in Charleston – and moved through the ranks of various papers until an editor realized she had a voice “and I have difficulty keeping my voice out of my straight copy.”
Thirty years of columns have followed her switch to letting that voice out. Her friend and former USC Journalism Dean Charles Bierbauer believes she is so widely read because her columns are so accessible. “She speaks to you as though you were having tea at a pleasant little place in Camden as well as from the grave halls of Washington.” Whether commenting on national politics or thoroughbred horses, Parker’s subject choices are reached by “reading, reading, reading” as well as by talking and listening to other people. She is concerned with the recent phenomenon of “fake news” and many people’s inability to tell responsible journalism from flashy pseudo-news that isn’t subject to the rules and standards that professional journalists adhere to. She says people are not informed, but misinformed, who don’t understand and respect legitimate news organizations. According to Parker, people are going to have to get smarter about what information they consume to be able to tell if it’s news, or something else.