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Utne Q&A with John Donvan of Intelligence Squared

Utne Q&A with John Donvan of Intelligence Squared

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Intelligence Squared U.S. is an Oxford-style debate series covering a range of relevant controversial topics, from science refuting God to '€œtoo big to fail'€ big banks. The series recently celebrated its 100th debate, and Utne Reader editorial intern Soli Salgado had an opportunity to talk with moderator John Donvan beforehand about how the topics develop, the challenges of moderating, and preserving the integrity of the ancient art of debate.

Utne Reader: How has previous reporting for ABC News helped you as a moderator?

John Donvan: I had 30 years of ABC and did virtually every beat there was: I was a foreign correspondent for 13 years, came back and worked as a general assignment reporter, then as the White House correspondent. In the course of all that, at some point or other I covered every printed story there ever was, sometimes three times over, and that really gave me a broad range: from economy to religion to poverty to race science to medicine to health to politics and international conflicts. We haven'€™t really had a debate where I haven'€™t covered the issue in some fashion or other. We just had a debate on genetically modified food, and I did a broadcast on that in 1999. The debate before that was on assisted suicide, and I had done a one-hour documentary on that in 1994. It'€™s like a perfect repurposing of my entire body of knowledge gained from my career as an ABC reporter.