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Local journalists discuss media in a healthy democracy

From+left%3A+Ruben+Navarrette%2C+Alison+St.John%2C+Matt+Hall+and+Scott+Lewis+represents+the+panel+discussing+freedom+and+the+press+facilitator+is+Dr.+Dilcie+Perez+to+the+right.+
From left: Ruben Navarrette, Alison St.John, Matt Hall and Scott Lewis represents the panel discussing freedom and the press facilitator is Dr. Dilcie Perez to the right.

From left: Ruben Navarrette, Alison St.John, Matt Hall and Scott Lewis represents the panel discussing freedom and the press facilitator is Dr. Dilcie Perez to the right.

Micaela Johansson

Micaela Johansson

From left: Ruben Navarrette, Alison St.John, Matt Hall and Scott Lewis represents the panel discussing freedom and the press facilitator is Dr. Dilcie Perez to the right.

Meghan Taylor, Assistant Entertainment Editor

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On Nov. 1 in the USU ballroom, the American Democracy Project (ADP) at CSUSM presented “Freedom and the Press: The role of Media in a Healthy Democracy” moderated by Dr. Dilcie Perez. Esteemed journalists, now local to San Diego County, discussed topics which ranged from journalistic responsibility to the role of social media in an ever-changing media landscape.

The journalists in attendance were: Matt Hall the Editorial and Opinion director at The San Diego Union-Tribune, Scott Lewis the Editor-in-Chief of Voice of San Diego, Ruben Navarrette, syndicated columnist for Washington Post and Alison St. John a North County Reporter for KPBS.

Dr. Perez began the discussion with “why did you choose journalism as a career?” followed by, “how has media changed over the course of your career?” All four journalists shared the love of writing – it’s what’s helped guide them in their journalism careers. However, not everyone agreed on the state of media in our current society.

Navarrette was the first to make the statement that media has not changed for the better. His argument was that the objectivity of a journalist no longer followed the ‘traditional rule book’ to remain objective unless one was a columnist.

Lewis challenged Navarrete’s statement saying “there are new rules we can adopt” and “we need to be more transparent about what [journalists] really are trying to do, we can optimize for trust.”

Though other questions were posed about media in a healthy democracy, the journalists ended the discussion by giving advice to those wanting to pursue journalism and how to find one’s voice as a journalist.

Hall said to “not be afraid and that will help you find your voice… in a very real way, if you’re looking for your voice, it certainly helps to talk to other journalists.” However, Lewis said that in order to grow, learn and find one’s voice, one has to make mistakes in the industry.  

While learning and finding guidance from peers is crucial advice, St John said that a journalist should have courage in a world “not made of wrong or right.” She added that it was crucial to “trust your research and your experience.”

Navarrette said, “be confident that you can make a difference and expose yourself to different points of views. Be a critical thinker. Aim for clarity, passion and nuance. Be courageous enough and sure enough of what you believe.”

After a large discussion with four different views, the panel answered any questions the audience had.

The goal of ADP at CSUSM, according to their website, “is to increase opportunities for students to practice good civic leadership and encourage spaces to openly dialogue about the health of our American democracy.”

To learn more information about upcoming events hosted by the ADP at CSUSM, find them on the web at www.CSUSM.edu/community/civiclearning/adp

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