Categorized | A Conversation With

Karl Grossman

Posted on 04 May 2012

web convo Karl_Grossman3

By Bryan Boyhan

After 50 years in journalism, what have you learned?

My specialty has been investigative reporting, and what I’ve learned is what I picked up way back, when I was an intern at the Cleveland Press. The Press was a hot bed of investigative reporting. It was founded by E.W. Scripps, who was a leader in muckraking, and in 1960 the culture he created was still there.

When people called in with a story, if it was a real story of inequality or injustice, he gave it to a crew of reporters. What I picked up was, when you actually expose an unfair situation, half the time there’s a resolution. Investigative journalism, muckraking, works.

Written over the door to the Cleveland Press is: “Give people the light and they’ll find their own way.” What I’ve found, when you give people the light — for example the proposed highway on Fire Island, or the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant — and give them straight information, they’re intelligent enough, fair minded enough, that there can be a resolution.


What is the biggest threat to journalism today?

I just did a piece on Rupert Murdoch. The press is supposed to be independent, and, as academics call it, a libertarian press is supposed to be a check on power. It shows how flexible the system is that, when big corporations started gaining so much power, the press took on corporations. The press now needs to be flexible enough to take on scientific and technical power.

Benjamin Franklin saw the role of the press as not just a stenographer, but something that would challenge government.

The challenge now is someone like Murdoch, who is so politically powerful. The guy is so extremely political. One of the problems with our system is, if you have the money you can buy into it. When someone like Murdoch gets in you can corrupt the system. That’s one threat.

A second threat is, when you have little competition, the media gets fat and lazy.

The third thing is, the biggest thing since the typewriter is the Internet. We’re having a media revolution. What concerns me is government’s attempt to squelch this great new media form.


You’re reputation is as an investigative journalist. What do you think we should spend more time investigating?

The biggest horror stories, and we’re not doing it; Fukushima for example.

The stuff is hitting the California coast. There is a finding of mortality in the U.S. as a result of fallout over the past year. About 22,000 excess deaths they’ve found attributable to fallout since Fukusihima. This is a huge story, but the Washington Post said last week in an editorial that Fukushima was a non-catastrophe. I mean c’mon.

A 2009 study concludes the excess deaths from 1986 to 2004 as a result of Chernobyl were about 985,000. Dr.Alexey Yablokov, an author of that study, feels that Fukushima will be worse.

At Fukushima there were three reactors that went down. Dr. Yablokov, who was Gorbachev’s and Yeltisn’s consultant on the environment, estimates there will be more than a million deaths. Nobody’s writing about his.

We’re seeing the nuclear industry and people in government close to the nuclear industry saying people are not going to die from nuclear energy. In the U.S. we have the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approving one after another of the same type plant as in Fukushima. Scripps would have had a team of journalists on this.

It took decades for the truth to come out about the dangers of smoking. I’m afraid it’s taking decades for the truth to come out about nuclear energy. Show people the light.


What is your advice to young journalists?

There’s a concern among my students in terms of daily newspapers dying. I tell them there will always be an active and vibrant press. I encourage them all to go into new media and community newspapers. The press just seems to get bigger and bigger, media is becoming a greater force,

Keep your moral compass; it’s so damn important to democracy.


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4 Responses to “Karl Grossman”

  1. Chuck Housner says:

    The Real Story…current

    When the SFP at #4 reactor is breached and the resulting radioactive firestorm ensues, half of the Island of Honshu will have to be evacuated. There are reports that the Japanese government have been in talks with China and Russia discussing the potential of evacuating 40 million people, and the associated logistics. Some predict this event will collapse the economy of Japan, and in turn, its status as a sovereign nation.

    The resulting and ongoing radioactive releases (air and water) will contaminate the entire northern hemisphere. No country will be spared. Following the jet stream blowing west, the US and Canadian coasts will be the most hard hit/contaminated. The entire US will not be spared.
    This will be the beginning of the end for millions of people, and a mass corruption of the *gene pool for man and all other living creatures and plants. This will be the end of nuclear power, too; but, it will be the end of many of us, coincidently.

    If you think those who created this nuclear power electricity scheme will be able to contain Fukushima; think again. The same folks who got us into this mess, are the ones charged with fixing it…WTF? Remember the Deepwater Horizon and how the offender BP was left to be the fixer…insanity.

    *Gene pool corruption…see this Chernobyl preview of our future… http://inmotion.magnumphotos.com/essay/chernobyl

  2. Tony Ernst says:

    Mr. Housner:

    Please provide reference(s) for “When the SFP at #4 reactor is breached and the resulting radioactive firestorm ensues, half of the Island of Honshu will have to be evacuated. “

  3. Elinor Spalten says:

    Very scary. Thank you Save Sag Harbor for publishing this article about Karl Grossman.

    Elinor Spalten

  4. Elinor Spalten says:

    Forget my previous comment. I meant to thank Sag Harbor Express! for publishing the article about Karl Grossman, but thanks to Save Sag Harbor for other good works.

    Elinor Spalten


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