Two of the biggest names in the history of American journalism, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, were in Sioux Falls Tuesday night for the Boe Forum on Public Affairs at Augustana University.
Before the reporters who uncovered the Watergate scandal spoke at the Elmen Center, KELOLAND News spoke with students about how it felt to hear from two people whose work changed the course of American history and still informs how we understand the world today.
Augustana University junior Chloe VanGerpen is a journalism major, learning to practice the craft that Woodward and Bernstein used to change American history.
“It’s still kind of unreal to think that they’re here and we’re going to hear from them, because right now there’s a lot of trouble in journalism, a lot of people don’t trust what we have to say, so it’s nice to hear from two people who have done so much work and are so revered to us,” VanGerpen said. “It’s very exciting.”
Fellow Augustana junior Erin Schneiderhan was excited, too.
“I’m a business communication major, so anything regarding journalism or the news and just getting to hear how it all went down, everything behind the scenes, is super fascinating to me,” Schneiderhan said.
Few journalists have asked questions which yielded bigger answers than these Woodward and Bernstein have. But Tuesday night, Augustana University President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was asking them.
“If you could take us back, take us back to the early 1970s, maybe share with us some of your reflections that are most acute in your mind about key moments in that investigation,” Herseth Sandlin said.
Uncovering Watergate, Bernstein answered, was about going back to your roots.
“We went about covering this story the way young reporters who have grown up doing a lot of police work and beating a lot of shoe leather, would cover this story that because of that methodology enabled us to find out this was not just a local burglary, but rather was part of a vast campaign of political espionage and sabotage,” Carl Bernstein said.