Les Payne: Journalism’s Role in Democracy

June 12, 2012 | CUNY Lecture Series, Issues in Journalism, LaGuardia Community College

In the early 1970s, as the number of heroin addicts in New York City started to explode, the Long Island newspaper Newsday sent a team of investigative reporters to find the source of the scourge. “That’s how journalism works,” says Les Payne, about his work on “The Heroin Trail,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning series that uncovered an international ring of heroin smugglers. You find a problem, see no quick answers, so you begin to investigate, says Payne, who wrote a column for Newsday until retiring in 2008. Payne spoke with students at LaGuardia Community College about the invaluable role that investigative reporting plays in a healthy democracy.