Covering the 2020 Election in the Swing States – October 6
Make plans now to ZOOM into a panel discussion on “Covering the 2020 Election in the Swing States” from 7 – 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, sponsored by the Central Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden squared off for their first debate in Cleveland this week and have been hopping around the Midwestern swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Is Ohio in play? How much impact will COVID-19, Black Lives Matter protests, the potential Supreme Court appointment, Trump’s tax returns, absentee ballots and the Russians have on this election? What are voters’ key concerns?
Panelists include Gary Abernathy, contributing columnist for The Washington Post and former publisher and editor of The (Hillsboro, Ohio) Times-Gazette; Darrel Rowland, public affairs editor of The Columbus Dispatch; Julie Carr Smyth, Statehouse correspondent and state government reporter for the Associated Press; Danya Henninger, editor of Billy Penn, an online Philadelphia local news and arts site that is owned by PBS affiliate WHYY; Katrease Stafford, national race and ethnicity writer for the Associated Press in Detroit; and Howard Wilkinson, senior political analyst for Cincinnati Public Radio. Mike Curtin, retired editor and associate publisher of The Columbus Dispatch who also served four years as an Ohio state representative, will serve as moderator.
The event is free but registration is required to receive the Zoom information. Please click here to register via Eventbrite.
Learn More About Our Panelists
Michael F. Curtin
Mike Curtin is a former editor and associate publisher of The Columbus Dispatch. A graduate of Ohio State University, he began his 38-year newspaper career in 1973 as a summer intern. Curtin specialized in coverage of local and state government, public policy and electoral politics. He is co-author of The Ohio Politics Almanac, now in its 3rd edition, published by Kent State University Press.
Following his retirement from the newspaper, Curtin served four years in the Ohio House of Representatives, representing the 17th District, serving the west and south sides of Columbus. In civic and community service, he has served for over 25 years on the boards of some of central Ohio’s leading nonprofit organizations.
Gary Abernathy is a contributing columnist for The Washington Post. After serving as an editor at three Ohio newspapers from 1983 to 1996, he worked in Republican Party politics in Ohio and West Virginia, as well as for an Ohio congressman and two U.S. senators. He returned to journalism in 2011, serving until July 2018 as publisher and editor of The (Hillsboro, Ohio) Times-Gazette, one of the few newspapers to endorse Donald Trump for president in 2016.
Over the course of his 20-year newspaper career, Abernathy has won numerous industry awards for column writing, editing and reporting. He is a frequent guest on television and radio, commenting on political events.
Danya Henninger is editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, a Philadelphia digital news site that covers everything from breaking local news to urban life to food and fun. Founded in October 2014 as a startup, the Billy Penn news team became part of WHYY, the region’s NPR/PBS affiliate in April 2019.
Previously Henninger, who grew up in New York City, served as a restaurant critic for the Cherry Hill, N.J., Courier-Post and NJ Monthly and local editor of Zagat Philly. She also has written food and beer columns for various publications.
Darrel Rowland has been with The Columbus Dispatch since 1991 and public affairs editor since 1999. He supervises the team that covers politics and state government. Rowland has covered national political conventions since 1996, followed John Kasich on the 2016 campaign trail in 10 states, and attended several presidential debates, including the one between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 29 in Cleveland.
In his career he has won nearly 100 journalism awards, and the reporters he supervises have won many more. Rowland is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and is a graduate of Ohio State University.
Julie Carr Smyth
Julie Carr Smyth has covered all things Ohio government and politics since 2000. She did this work first as a Statehouse reporter for The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, and, since 2006, as a Statehouse correspondent and state government reporter for The Associated Press. She currently serves on AP’s team covering 2020 voting issues. Before arriving at the Statehouse, Smyth spent stints at The Orlando Sentinel and The (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union, as well as several smaller papers.
A Columbus native, she is a graduate of Ohio State University, where she also received her master’s degree through the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.
Kat Stafford is the national race and ethnicity writer at The Associated Press, covering the 2020 election and how race intersects with society, culture, politics, health and more in America. She is vice president of the Society of Professional Journalists Detroit chapter and is on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors. An award-winning journalist, Stafford was previously an investigative journalist at the Detroit Free Press.
She is a board member of Eastern Michigan University’s student newspaper, The Eastern Echo, and has led several training sessions and panels, including for the Ida B. Wells Society and Maynard Institute.
Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, he has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 16 presidential nominating conventions, including the 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions. Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots, the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993, the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983, and the 1997 Ohio River flooding.
In 2012, the Society of Professional Journalists inducted Wilkinson into the Cincinnati Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was named senior political analyst for Cincinnati Public Radio. He appears on Cincinnati Edition and writes “Tales from the Trail” for WVXU.