Covering the 2020 Election in the Swing States – Part 2

Earlier this month, without warning, ZOOM cut short our panel discussion on “Covering the 2020 Election in the Swing States,” interrupting a great conversation among veteran journalists from throughout Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. To finish this session and to gain new insights on what issues concern voters in these states, join us online from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26. How much impact are COVID-19, Black Lives Matter protests, the Supreme Court nomination, absentee ballots and the Russians having on the presidential election and down-ballot races as Election Day approaches?  

Fortunately panelists Gary Abernathy, contributing columnist for The Washington Post and former publisher and editor of The (Hillsboro, Ohio) Times-Gazette; Danya Henninger, editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, a Philadelphia digital news site; Darrel Rowland, public affairs editor of The Columbus Dispatch; Julie Carr Smyth, Statehouse correspondent and state government reporter for the Associated Press; and Howard Wilkinson, senior political analyst for Cincinnati Public Radio; have agreed to return to this topic. Lauren Gibbons, political reporter in Lansing for MLive, which serves eight Michigan newspapers, and Briana Reilly, state politics and government reporter for The Cap Times in Madison, Wis., will be joining them, and Mike Curtin, retired editor and associate publisher of The Columbus Dispatch, will resume his chair as moderator. Learn more about the panelists below!

Zoom did not allow us to reconnect on Oct. 6, bumping off more than 100 people. But we are taking extra measures to prevent a recurrence. In the meantime, if you missed any of that first hour, check out the video of the discussion here:

The program Oct. 26 is free, but registration is required for online access. Click here to register though Eventbrite or click the Register button below.

Learn More About Our Panelists


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Curtin-1.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Abernathy.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is henninger.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Rowland.jpg

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Smith.jpg

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.

Howard Wilkinson

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Wilkinson.jpg

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.

Lauren Gibbons

Lauren Gibbons is an award-winning state government reporter, covering Michigan politics and policy for MLive Media Group, parent company of The Grand Rapids Press, The Ann Arbor News, The Flint Journal and several other Michigan newspapers. She has covered several cycles of state and federal elections and specializes in state Capitol reporting. This year, she’s been covering the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive response and the backlash to that from conservatives.

Previously, Gibbons worked for MIRS News and The Columbus Dispatch. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and president of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Briana Reilly

Briana Reilly is the state politics and government reporter for The Cap Times in Madison, Wis., covering the divided Statehouse and all things elections. The Cap Times is the digital-first version of The Capital Times newspaper, which dates to 1917. Reilly previously worked for, also in Madison, which offers an insider look at the happenings inside and outside the state Capitol. 

A Wisconsin native, Reilly is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is on the board of the Madison Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.