WSJ reporter talks Supreme Court, journalism during Conerly Lecture at MSU

Contact: James Carskadon

Brent Kendall, a legal affairs reporter for the Wall Street Journal, speaks at Mississippi State on Thursday [March 1] as part of the university’s Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series. (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A veteran legal affairs reporter with the Wall Street Journal shared his insights on the current era of news reporting with the Mississippi State community on Thursday [March 1] as part of the university’s Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series.

Brent Kendall talked about the ways covering courts and the nation’s capital has changed under the presidency of Donald Trump. Kendall has seen the focus shift from national security issues in the George W. Bush era, to civil rights issues in the Barack Obama era, to today’s current issues.

“It’s an intense time,” Kendall said. “The news cycle never stops, but it’s a good time to be in journalism. A lot more people are interested in public affairs. As much as the world is different, the basic tenets of journalism remain the same.”

Based in Washington, D.C. since 2002, Kendall covers the Supreme Court and lower federal courts for the Wall Street Journal while leading the paper’s coverage of U.S. antitrust enforcement. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and American University, he previously worked for Dow Jones Newswires, the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Washington Monthly. His work also has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Columbia Journalism Review and California Lawyer Magazine.

During his lecture, Kendall emphasized that despite the rising claims of “fake news,” most reporters work hard to tell accurate stories and have many systems in place to ensure stories are fair before they are published.

“Our only agenda is to report the news in a way that is fair and informative,” Kendall said.

He said he is keeping a watchful eye on several Supreme Court cases this year dealing with issues such as citizen privacy, sports gambling and legislative gerrymandering. Although the cases that go before the court usually see the most coverage, he said he also pays close attention to which cases the justices decide not to hear.

“Just getting a case on the docket is a big part of the battle,” Kendall said.

The lecture series is made possible by major support from Conerly, a 1971 MSU accounting/pre-law graduate and longtime partner in the Destin, Florida, law firm of Conerly, Bowman and Dykes LLP. He is both a former national MSU Alumni Association president and College of Business Alumni Fellow. Thursday’s event was organized by MSU’s Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, and Pre-Law Society.

The Department of Political Science and Public Administration is part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Learn more about the college at; PSPA department at

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