WNC co-presented “Breaking News: The State of Today’s Information Media”

The Washington News Council co-presented a highly successful six-week long
public forum series titled “Breaking News: The State of Today’s Information
Media” in February, March and April. Lead sponsor of the series was the
Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council (BIAHC), which asked the News
Council to help select topics, moderate panels and invite panelists. Several
hundred people attended the series.

The forum began on Feb. 27, with a keynote speech by James Fallows, national
correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly. Fallows strongly endorsed the work
of the Washington News Council in his speech, while addressing how changes
in ownership and structure of news media are changing their role in public
life.

On March 1, in a panel on “The Media and the Law,” Bruce Johnson, media
attorney with Davis Wright Tremaine, and John Merton Marrs, journalism
instructor at Everett Community College, gave a fascinating history of the
First Amendment, libel laws and how the internet is affecting mass
communication.

“The Impact of New Technology on the News Media” – WNC Vice President Steve
Silha moderated a March 8 panel that included WNC President Cyrus Krohn,
publisher of Slate.com; Alex Dunne, managing editor of Blue Ear Daily; Doug
Schuler, Seattle Community Network Association; and Stanley Farrar, website
editor for The Seattle Times.

“The History of Political Cartoons” – David Horsey, the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer’s two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, did a
multimedia presentation of his work on March 15 to a crowd of about 200
people at Bainbridge High School.

“Television News: If It Bleeds, It Leads?” – John Arthur Wilson of The
Gallatin Group moderated a March 22 panel that included Enrique Cerna,
executive producer for KCTS Television; Melanie McFarland, television critic
for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; and Peter O’Connell, assistant news
director for KING-TV.

Mock Student News Council Hearing – The WNC sponsored a mock hearing at
Bainbridge High School on March 26, with students playing the role of the
News Council to consider an actual case: “Washington Beef Commission and
Washington Dairy Products Commission vs. KIRO-TV.” The students voted almost
exactly the same way as did the actual News Council, upholding the complaint
on nearly every count.

“Journalistic Ethics, Objectivity, Accuracy and Fairness” – March 29 panel
moderated by WNC Executive Director John Hamer included Brad Knickerbocker,
Christian Science Monitor reporter; Larry Johnson, Seattle
Post-Intelligencer foreign desk editor; Rick Jackson, journalism instructor
at Seattle Pacific University; and Philip Dawdy, media writer for Seattle
Weekly.

“The News Media and Society” – Final panel on April 2 moderated by Ross
Reynolds, KUOW radio host, included Margo Gordon, WNC Public Member and
University of Washington professor of public affairs; Steve Silha, WNC Vice
President and communications consultant; and Mark Trahant, Seattle P-I
editorial-page editor.

The forum also featured three other events:
March 13 – “Dear Editor: A Playreading of Letters to The Bainbridge Review.”
March 20 – “Media Matters: A Conversation with Youth and Adults about Living
in a Media World.” An Open Space forum sponsored by Imagine Bainbridge.
April 5-8 – “Breaking News Film Festival,” Four-evening film festival of
movies about journalism and the media business, including All the
President’s Men; Broadcast News; The China Syndrome; His Girl Friday/The
Front Page; The Insider; Medium Cool; and Network.

“We were very pleased to co-present this forum with the BIAHC,” said WNC
Executive Director John Hamer. “This was one of the most thoughtful and
comprehensive series of panels on the news media that has every been done
anywhere. And the turnout proved how concerned many citizens are about the
media.”

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