There are many journalists who hope to change the world through their stories, but few can claim to have done as much to accomplish that lofty goal as Nicholas Kristof, who joined Mike Walter for an interview in Washington, D.C.
Heralded as “the moral conscious of modern journalism,” the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist has covered stories of suffering across the world — from genocide in Darfur to human trafficking in Asia.
In his thirty-year career at The New York Times, Kristof has traveled to more than 150 countries and covered economics to presidential politics. He was a correspondent in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo before he became a columnist in 2001.
Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have co-authored four books: “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power,” “Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia,” and “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” Their latest book, “A Path Appears,” focuses on innovators using research and evidence-based strategies to make a difference in fighting inequality. Aptly titled, the book also offers a roadmap on how to make an impact for anyone who has ever wondered, “What can I do?”
“I’ve seen over and over again, people use their voices and advocate for policies that then lead to more services than, you know, Bill Gates could ever afford,” Kristof said. “Never underestimate the power of a few, committed, well-educated people pushing the levers of government to really make a difference.”
A self-proclaimed optimist, Kristof said he is a believer in the power of hope. Though he has seen the worst of humanity, he said he has also seen the best – and they often co-exist side-by-side.
On this week’s episode of Full Frame, Kristof and Walter discussed his book, the stories that have stayed with him, and the role of journalism in today’s world.
“Where we do have a power, as columnists or as journalists of any kind, is in the power to set an agenda, to shine a light on something and propel it onto the agenda in ways that help create the first step to a solution,” Kristof said. “I think, at the end of the day, we’re not very good in the heating business, but we’re just crucial in the lighting business.”
Follow Nicholas Kristof on Twitter: @NickKristof