SPA 362 – Leadership Development Lab II – Spring 2020

Take me back to the Schedule of Assignments page

Week 7:  Media and Social Media – Katharine Graham, Media, and Social Media

We look at leaders in the publishing industry this week.  Katharine Graham inherited the mid-century Washington Post (from her husband, who got it from her father) when it was still clearly subordinate to the New York Times. The founders of Twitter helped us become publishers on our own, while Google allowed us to learn everything ever published and at the same time threaten publishing as we know it.

Conspicuous by his absence here is Mark Zuckerberg – I wondered if your classmates might offer something by him.  We may yet see him in a future week.

Katherine Graham, Washington Post

We start by watching Katharine Graham for a couple of minutes, on publishing the Pentagon Papers (video – 4 min), The Connecticut Forum, “A Conversation about Leadership,” 1997

Graham spoke to NPR in 1997 about her early days at the publisher of the Post, including the decision with the New York Times to publish the Pentagon Papers. She discusses a range of leadership issues – including pressure from the federal government, lawyers and investors, and from the men who up until now had run then newspaper and newspaper business.

Google Co-Founder Larry Page Just Taught an Essential Lesson in Leadership: Here It Is in 3 Words, Incmagazine, May 1, 2017

Your classmates have chosen some really interesting leaders in media and social media for us to consider.  In some ways, the questions raised are specific to this weeks themes and in other ways they continue our broader conversation about learning from leaders

Shaun King – Black Lives Matter and social media activism 


Shaun King is a social media activist with 1.5 million followers on Instagram and 1.1 million followers on Twitter. His social media fame comes from his work with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Alongside being a social media activist, King also co-founded the Real Justice PAC. Prompt: How do you propel a movement when the passion for an issue dies down? Have you had to advocate on behalf of a movement or an organization with a lack of passion? Do you agree or disagree with King’s statement that you can only create change for one or two issues? How have you amplified the voices of the experts while fighting for a specific cause?

Nonny de la Peña – Journalism with Virtual Reality


Nonny de la Peña is a journalist working on journalism through virtual reality.

Prompt: How big of a role does innovation play in leadership? Do all good leaders have to be innovative, and are all innovators leaders? De la Peña says that even as she’s pushing this new and different technology, the basic values and tenets of journalism remain the same. How can good leaders recognize which parts of the status quo in their field should be protected versus challenged?

Kara and Nate – Traveling Vlogging Couple on Youtube


Kara and Nate are a married couple originally from Nashville, Tennessee. They became full time travelers in 2016, with the goal to travel to 100 countries by 2020. Their small vlogging channel started to boom in late 2017, with them reaching one million subscribers as they were in their 100th country.

Prompt: How can the media promote different forms of leadership? In an age where Youtube and Tik Tok have created careers, how can influencers demonstrate their leadership through their work?

Fred Rogers – Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood



Fred Rogers (1928-2003) was an American writer, producer, and TV show host. He is most famous for his public television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” which was marketed towards preschool-aged children. He also served on a White House Forum on childhood development and mass media. In the video of Rogers testifying on Capitol Hill, he discusses the concept of “showing care”. Discuss how Rogers’ concept of “showing care” relates to a specific leadership theory. Can it be considered leadership? If so, is it effective?

Every week we might ask, What do our leaders this week have in common with our leaders from previous weeks – or how do they differ?  A few considerations might be humility, a start-up mentality, closeness to or distance from front line workers, their origin story, the complexity or simplicity of their goals, their agility in changing times.  You might have a different example.

The figures we studied this week as well as many others have had to make hard decisions in their time as leaders. How have these decisions and making them affected how they went forward and led in their respective fields?

What was leadership like for a woman at that time, especially with what Graham had to deal with?

As always, you can pose and answer a prompt of your own.