Jon Meacham, a prize-winning historian and this weekend’s Commencement speaker at the University of Mississippi, will discuss American politics with Andrew Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, at 5 p.m. Friday (May 12) at the university’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.
The event, sponsored by Mississippi Today, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media and the Overby Center, is free and open to the public. A reception is set for 6 p.m., giving guests an opportunity to meet and mingle with two of the nation’s most prominent figures in television news and commentary.
“Presidential Politics, Trump and the Media: The Inside Scoop with Jon Meacham and Andrew Lack” is the latest program Lack has arranged on the Ole Miss campus. Last fall, he coordinated a panel discussion featuring longtime NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former U.S. Rep Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee.
“Andy Lack is one of the most important news media leaders in the world,” said Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center. “And Jon Meacham is a one-man media conglomerate as a writer, book publishing executive, TV commentator and speaker.
“Having them on the same platform will provide great insights into our national political and media scene.”
Meacham is an executive editor and vice president at Random House, one of the nation’s leading publishing institutions. A former editor-in-chief of Newsweek, he is a best-selling author of “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,” “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush” and other books.
He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in the category of biography and autobiography for “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.” He also is a frequent guest commentator on politics and history on various network news programs dealing with current events.
Lack held top executive positions at NBC, CBS and Bloomberg Media Group before returning to NBC to take charge of the network’s news division in 2015. As a producer at CBS in the 1970s and ’80s, he won 10 Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards, and he is credited with restoring credibility at NBC after anchor Brian Williams was suspended for misrepresenting his experiences during the war in Iraq.
Lack was the driving force behind the establishment a year ago of Mississippi Today, a nonprofit, online news organization that has become a prime source of investigative news stories and interpretative articles on breaking events.
Both Meacham and Lack have strong Mississippi connections. Meacham is a native Tennessean and a graduate of the University of the South in Sewanee, but his wife, Keith, grew up on her family’s farm outside Greenville. Over the years, Meacham has been a guest at programs at Ole Miss and Square Books in Oxford.
Lack is a native New Yorker but has developed a love for Mississippi. For years, he has explored his family’s roots to Greenville, where his great-grandfather was an early mayor, and has become a great friend of the Overby Center and the Ole Miss journalism program at Ole Miss.
He is dedicating much of his free time to expand the reach of Mississippi Today. Lack started the news site, he said, “to provide comprehensive coverage of state and local affairs and community issues, including education, health, economic development, poverty and race, as well as Mississippi’s rich social culture.”
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