Boston Globe Editor Robby Robinson speaks to Scottsdale crowd

Harvard Business School of Arizona-hosted event featured guest speaker, Boston Globe Editor Robby Robinson in Scottsdale on Jan. 24. (submitted photo)

Democracy and a free press: Can either survive without the other?

This theme was explored on the evening of Jan. 24 at a Harvard Business School of Arizona-hosted event featuring guest speaker, Boston Globe Editor Walter V. (Robby) Robinson.

The presentation, originally scheduled at the community room of Paradise Valley Town Hall, was moved to the SkySong Center – The ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center at 1365 N. Scottsdale Road to accommodate a larger audience.

Robby Robinson led the Boston Globe Spotlight Team that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for public service for its investigation into the abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. The investigation was made into the 2015 Academy Award-winning film, “Spotlight,” starring Michael Keaton as Robinson.

Today Mr. Robinson is a Donald W. Reynolds Visiting Professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, Journalist in Residence at Northeastern University and an editor-at-large at the Boston Globe.

Discussion covered the print media as a dying institution in a digital age and Mr. Robinson’s belief that its decline poses a threat to democracy, according to a press release. He stressed the negative impact loss of revenue to the country’s major newspapers has on the number of investigative journalists who dig deep to uncover the truth.

As he put it, “The watchdog barks infrequently,” and, “if a whistleblower has no one to call, corruption goes undetected.”

In closing, he quoted Winston Churchill, who said about the free press, “It is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.”

Questions following Mr. Robinson’s remarks sparked comments from among the 140-member audience, including suggestions for new business model concepts for marketing the news. In response to one listener’s query about whether it might work to monetize the delivery of news with new digital formats, Mr. Robinson said, “I don’t know, but let me get back to you.”

The Harvard club’s presentation was co-hosted by the Phoenix Ivy Council. To learn more about the Harvard Business School Club of Arizona visit For Phoenix Ivy Council details contact Jonathan Hall at

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