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Bob Woodward helps Gateway Journalism Review celebrate 40th anniversary

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 12, 2011 - I had never even imagined I would get to say these words.

"Hi, how may I help you?" an unidentified female voice asked me from a phone line in Washington D.C."Hi, I'm calling for, um, Bob Woodward," I responded, nearly choking on the last few words.

Thankfully, I had a reason for my call, aside from wanting to gush about how I've read and loved "All the President's Men," have an unhealthy addiction to the movie, am obsessed with washingtonpost.com and sit on pins and needles waiting for his books to come out.

Woodward is scheduled to speak at the Gateway Journalism Review's event called "Minding the Media" on Thurs., Sept. 15. He will be conferencing in via satellite to join CBS' Russ Mitchell in a panel discussion on the media's responsibility to analyze themselves. The event is in honor of the St. Louis Journalism Review's 40th anniversary, at a time when many journalism reviews have died out.

Woodward, who referred to journalism publications as a "review of the reviewers," said even today when the number of journalism reviews has significantly declined, examining the media is as necessary as ever, especially with the public's doubts about trusting journalism.

"The journalism review keeps in light the news business and it's essential that that be done," Woodward said. "There is not just a great deal of skepticism but an immense amount of distrust about the performance of the media."

And Woodward's the perfect guy to ask: official Watergate muckraker alongside colleague Carl Bernstein, best-selling author and media icon for journalism students across the country. Woodward's name is synonymous with shoe-leather reporting, and his own analyses of the media and our country's top political leaders have many Americans -- or at least this one -- waiting on pins and needles for his next investigative book to hit the shelves.

"I think the essential question is: Do we really know what's going on? Do we provide a fair-minded, in-depth examination and an authentic examination of the institutions, the government and the personalities we're covering?" Woodward said of reviewing the media.

Though Woodward pointed out that journalism reviews are typically most popular for those in the media industry, he said citizens are the ones who need to be critical of journalism today. He said media consumers should take the time to look at who was quoted, what documents were quoted and judge for themselves if a genuine effort was made to present all sides of an issue.

"People should really look at the reviews (and) people who are practicing journalism," Woodward said.

Allison Prang, a journalism student at the University of Missouri-Columbia, was a summer intern at the Beacon.

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