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Retired journalist David Lawrence Jr.’s reading still centers on news

David Lawrence Jr. is president and co-chair of The Children\u2019s Movement of Florida, president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation of Miami, and retired publisher of The Miami Herald.
Friday 31 August 2018 08.00

David Lawrence Jr.

In 1999, at the age of 56, Lawrence decided to retire from his post as publisher of the Miami Herald after decades in journalism. Since then, he has focused on a life’s passion, advocating for children by leading the Children’s Movement of Florida, serving on the Governor’s Children and Youth Cabinet and twice chairing the Florida Partnership for School Readiness. In 2002, Lawrence was a key figure in the passage of the statewide constitutional amendment providing voluntary prekindergarten for all 4-year-olds, now recognized around the Sunshine State as VPK. We caught up with Lawrence, 76, and talked kids, journalism and books.

"I can remember the first book my mother read to me. It was The Little Engine That Could. When you believe in yourself, you see the power in yourself to do enormous things. It’s a good book to help with a path for life. Books stay with you,’’ he said.

Lawrence’s autobiography, A Dedicated Life, was published today.

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What’s on your nightstand?

I’m going to give you the last three books I read. The first is Ronan Farrow’s War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence. The second book is Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, and the third book is by Robin DeAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism. I read a book a week and always have. I get to participate in far more conversations because I have more news to talk about with other people because of reading. I also hold a book discussion every four to six weeks, and mostly it is about history. The next book for it is The Soul of America by Jon Meacham.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t ask you to comment on the state of journalism in the 21st century.

I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was working in the golden age of journalism. Now there are much fewer resources, but there is still the power in that individual journalist who can do significant and illuminating work. Along with all that is a concern for the American attention span. It has been diminished with the internet and social media. There seem to be too many of us who end up watching, reading, listening to only what we agree with, what our biases are, and that is not helping to keep the republic free.

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Piper Castillo, Times staff writere_SFrB


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